The antiproliferative activity of aloe-emodin is through p53-dependent and p21-dependent apoptotic pathway in human hepatoma cell lines

Life Sci. 2002 Sep 6;71(16):1879-92. doi: 10.1016/s0024-3205(02)01900-8.


The aim of this study is to investigate the anticancer effect of aloe-emodin in two human liver cancer cell lines, Hep G2 and Hep 3B. We observed that aloe-emodin inhibited cell proliferation and induced apoptosis in both examined cell lines, but with different the antiproliferative mechanisms. In Hep G2 cells, aloe-emodin induced p53 expression and was accompanied by induction of p21 expression that was associated with a cell cycle arrest in G1 phase. In addition, aloe-emodin had a marked increase in Fas/APO1 receptor and Bax expression. In contrast, with p53-deficient Hep 3B cells, the inhibition of cell proliferation of aloe-emodin was mediated through a p21-dependent manner that did not cause cell cycle arrest or increase the level of Fas/APO1 receptor, but rather promoted aloe-emodin induced apoptosis by enhancing expression of Bax. These findings suggest that aloe-emodin may be useful in liver cancer prevention.

MeSH terms

  • Aloe / chemistry*
  • Animals
  • Anthraquinones
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Apoptosis / physiology*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology*
  • Cell Cycle / physiology
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Emodin / pharmacology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Genes, bcl-2 / genetics
  • Genes, p53 / physiology*
  • Nucleosomes / chemistry
  • Oncogene Protein p21(ras) / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Receptors, Lipoprotein / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Lipoprotein / genetics
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • fas Receptor / metabolism


  • Anthraquinones
  • Nucleosomes
  • Receptors, Lipoprotein
  • apolipoprotein A-I A-II receptor
  • fas Receptor
  • aloe emodin
  • Oncogene Protein p21(ras)
  • Emodin