Background: Emodin is a natural anthraquinone derivative isolated from the Rheum palmatum L.
Aim: The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of emodin on the apoptosis of the human cervical cancer line HeLa and to identify the mechanisms involved.
Methods: Relative cell viability was assessed by MTT assay after treatment with emodin. Cell apoptosis was detected with TUNEL, Hoechst 33342 staining and quantified with flow cytometry using annexin FITC-PI staining.
Results: The percentage of apoptotic cells was 0.8, 8.2, 22.1, and 43.7%, respectively. The mRNA levels of Caspase-9, -8 and -3 detected by Real-time PCR after treatment with emodin were significantly increased. Emodin increased the protein levels of Cytochome c, Apaf-1, Fas, FasL, and FADD but decreased the protein levels of Pro-caspase-9, Pro-caspase-8 and Pro-caspase-3.
Conclusion: We conclude that the emodin inhibited HeLa proliferation by inducing apoptosis through the intrinsic mitochondrial and extrinsic death receptor pathways.