Iron-chelating effect of silymarin in patients with β-thalassemia major: A crossover randomised control trial

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Abstract

This study aimed to determine the potential iron-chelating effects of silymarin in patients with β-thalassemia major receiving standard iron-chelation therapy. We evaluated whether addition of silymarin to standard iron-chelation therapy could improve iron burden markers and liver and cardiac function in these patients, via a placebo-controlled, crossover clinical study. Silymarin (140 mg) or placebo were administered thrice daily to all patients (n = 82) for 12 weeks, and after a 2-week washout period, patients were crossed over to the other groups. Silymarin efficacy was assessed by measuring serum iron level, ferritin level, total iron-binding capacity and liver and cardiac function on magnetic resonance imaging. Silymarin treatment resulted in a negative change in the serum iron and ferritin levels and a positive change in the total iron-binding capacity levels (treatment effect, p < .001, p = .06, and p = .05, respectively). Silymarin treatment led to positive changes in cardiac and liver function in both treatment sequences of study; however, this was not statistically significant. There was a negative change in liver iron concentration in both treatment sequences (treatment effect, p = .02). In conclusion, combined iron-chelation and silymarin therapy was effective for improving the iron-burden status in patients with β-thalassemia major.

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