Intestinal Permeability Study of Clinically Relevant Formulations of Silibinin in Caco-2 Cell Monolayers

An ever-growing number of preclinical studies have investigated the tumoricidal activity of the milk thistle flavonolignan silibinin. The clinical value of silibinin as a bona fide anti-cancer therapy, however, remains uncertain with respect to its bioavailability and blood–brain barrier (BBB) permeability. To shed some light on the absorption and bioavailability of silibinin, we utilized the Caco-2 cell monolayer model of human intestinal absorption to evaluate the permeation properties of three different formulations of silibinin: silibinin-meglumine, a water-soluble form of silibinin complexed with the amino-sugar meglumine; silibinin-phosphatidylcholine, the phytolipid delivery system Siliphos; and Eurosil85/Euromed, a milk thistle extract that is the active component of the nutraceutical Legasil with enhanced bioavailability. Our approach predicted differential mechanisms of transport and blood–brain barrier permeabilities between the silibinin formulations tested. Our assessment might provide valuable information about an idoneous silibinin formulation capable of reaching target cancer tissues and accounting for the observed clinical effects of silibinin, including a recently reported meaningful central nervous system activity against brain metastases ​
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