MATERIALS AND METHODS: Silymarin was isolated from seeds of milk thistle. Various genotoxicity bioassays of silymarin were performed using mice. First, the bone marrow cell proliferation was estimated by calculating mitotic index. Second, the chromosomal abnormalities in mice bone marrow cells were studied. Third, micronucleated polychromatic erythrocytes (MPE) test and in vivo activation of sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs) were carried out in mice bone marrow cells. Finally, primary spermatocytes were analyzed to estimate genotoxic effect of silymarin on germ cells.
RESULTS: We found that silymarin is capable of inducing a significant increase (P ≤ 0.05) in cell proliferation of bone marrow cells. There is no increase in chromosomal aberrations following silymarin treatments. Results clearly showed that it significantly (P ≤ 0.05) decreased the MPE. Likewise, it was found to be a negative inducer of SCEs. It decreased in total abnormal metaphase, SCEs, MPE, and aberrant diakinesis.
CONCLUSION: The results demonstrated that silymarin has a strong anticlastogenic activity upon mice genome in somatic and germ cells, indicating its safe use as a medicinal substance. Furthermore, it is not only safe but also has protective effect from clastogens.