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Systematic Review Article

The Radiosensitizing Potentials of Silymarin/Silibinin in Cancer: A Systematic Review


Jitendra Gupta, Abduladheem Turki Jalil, Zainab Al-hawraa Riyad Muedii, Zafar Aminov, Fahad Alsaikhan, Andrés Ramírez-Coronel, Pushpamala Ramaiah and Bagher Farhood*   Pages 1 - 23 ( 23 )


Introduction: Although radiotherapy is one of the main cancer treatment modalities, exposing healthy organs/tissues to ionizing radiation during treatment and tumor resistance to ionizing radiation are the chief challenges of radiotherapy that can lead to different adverse effects. It was shown that the combined treatment of radiotherapy and natural bioactive compounds (such as silymarin/silibinin) can alleviate the ionizing radiation-induced adverse side effects and induce synergies between these therapeutic modalities. In the present review, the potential radiosensitization effects of silymarin/silibinin during cancer radiation exposure/radiotherapy were studied.

Methods: According to the PRISMA guideline, a systematic search was performed for the identification of relevant studies in different electronic databases of Google Scholar, PubMed, Web of Science, and Scopus up to October 2022. We screened 843 articles in accordance with a predefined set of inclusion and exclusion criteria. Seven studies were finally included in this systematic review.

Results: Compared to the control group, the cell survival/proliferation of cancer cells treated with ionizing radiation was considerably less, and silymarin/silibinin administration synergistically increased ionizing radiation-induced cytotoxicity. Furthermore, there was a decrease in the tumor volume, weight, and growth of ionizing radiation-treated mice as compared to the untreated groups, and these diminutions were predominant in those treated with radiotherapy plus silymarin/ silibinin. Furthermore, the irradiation led to a set of biochemical and histopathological changes in tumoral cells/tissues, and the ionizing radiation-induced alterations were synergized following silymarin/silibinin administration (in most cases).

Conclusion: In most cases, silymarin/silibinin administration could sensitize the cancer cells to ionizing radiation through an increase of free radical formation, induction of DNA damage, increase of apoptosis, inhibition of angiogenesis and metastasis, etc. However, suggesting the use of silymarin/silibinin during radiotherapeutic treatment of cancer patients requires further clinical studies.


Cancer,Radiotherapy,Radiosensitization,Silymarin,Silibinin,Systematic review


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