Clinical Oncology/Epidemiology

Silibinin protects against cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity without compromising cisplatin or ifosfamide anti-tumour activity


Cisplatin is one of the most active cytotoxic agents in the treatment of testicular cancer, but its clinical use is associated with side-effects such as ototoxicity, neurotoxicity and nephrotoxicity. Long-term kidney damage from cisplatin particularly affects the proximal tubular apparatus and can be detected by increased urinary excretion of brush-border enzymes, such as L-alanine-aminopeptidase (AAP), and magnesium. In the current study, the flavonoid silibinin was used as a nephroprotectant for cisplatin-induced nephropathy in a rat animal model. Infusion of silibinin before cisplatin results in a significant decrease in glomerular (indicated by creatinine clearance and serum urea level) and tubular kidney toxicity (excretion of brush-border enzymes and magnesium). Silibinin given alone had no effect on renal function. In order to exclude an inhibition of the anti-tumour activity of cisplatin and 4-hydroperoxy-ifosfamide by co-administration of silibinin, in vitro studies were performed in three established human testicular cancer cell lines. Dose-response curves for cisplatin (3-30 000 nmol) combined with non-toxic silibinin doses (7.25 x 10(-6) or 7.25 x 10(-5) mol l-1) did not deviate significantly from those of cisplatin alone as measured by relative cell survival during a 5 day assay using the sulphorhodamine-B staining technique. Also silibinin did not influence the cytotoxic activity of 4-hydroperoxy-ifosfamide (30-10 000 nmol) in vitro. In summary, these in vitro data rule out a significant inhibition of the anti-tumour activity of the major nephrotoxic components, cisplatin and 4-hydroperoxy-ifosfamide, by co-administration of silibinin in a human germ cell tumour cell line model. Together with these demonstrated cytoprotection effects in the rat animal model, these data form the basis for a randomised clinical trial of silibinin for the protection of cisplatin-associated nephrotoxicity in patients with testicular cancer.

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Bokemeyer, C., Fels, L., Dunn, T. et al. Silibinin protects against cisplatin-induced nephrotoxicity without compromising cisplatin or ifosfamide anti-tumour activity. Br J Cancer 74, 2036–2041 (1996).

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