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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Pulmonary Medicine 1/2015

The ameliorative effect of silibinin against radiation-induced lung injury: protection of normal tissue without decreasing therapeutic efficacy in lung cancer

BMC Pulmonary Medicine > Ausgabe 1/2015
Yeonghoon Son, Hae June Lee, Jin Kyung Rho, Soo Young Chung, Chang Geun Lee, Kwangmo Yang, Sung Ho Kim, Minyoung Lee, In Sik Shin, Joong Sun Kim
Wichtige Hinweise
Yeonghoon Son and Hae June Lee contributed equally to this work.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

YS, mouse models, drug administration, study design, and manuscript preparation; HJL, study design and revised manuscript preparation; JKR, mouse models and study design; SYC, pathological examination; SHK, irradiation study design and revised manuscript preparation; CGL, study design; ML, mouse models and study design; ISS, mouse models, study design, BALF analysis, and manuscript preparation; JSK, mouse models, histology, study design, and manuscript preparation. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



Silibinin has been known for its role in anti-cancer and radio-protective effect. Radiation therapy for treating lung cancer might lead to late-phase pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis. Thus, this study aimed to investigate the effects of silibinin in radiation-induced lung injury with a mouse model.


In this study, we examined the ability of silibinin to mitigate lung injury in, and improve survival of, C57BL/6 mice given 13 Gy thoracic irradiation and silibinin treatments orally at 100 mg/kg/day for seven days after irradiation. In addition, Lewis lung cancer (LLC) cells were injected intravenously in C57BL/6 mice to generate lung tumor nodules. Lung tumor-bearing mice were treated with lung radiation therapy at 13 Gy and with silibinin at a dose of 100 mg/day for seven days after irradiation.


Silibinin was shown to increase mouse survival, to ameliorate radiation-induced hemorrhage, inflammation and fibrosis in lung tissue, to reduce the number of inflammatory cells in the bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and to reduce inflammatory cell infiltration in the respiratory tract. In LLC tumor injected mice, lung tissue from mice treated with both radiation and silibinin showed no differences compared to lung tissue from mice treated with radiation alone.


Silibinin treatment mitigated the radiation-induced lung injury possibly by reducing inflammation and fibrosis, which might be related with the improved survival rate. Silibinin might be a useful agent for lung cancer patients as a non-toxic complementary approach to alleviate the side effects by thorax irradiation.
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