The pharmacology, toxicology and therapeutic potential of anthraquinone derivative emodin

Chin J Nat Med. 2020 Jun;18(6):425-435. doi: 10.1016/S1875-5364(20)30050-9.


Emodin (1, 3, 8-trihydroxy-6-methylanthraquinone) is a derived anthraquinone compound extracted from roots and barks of pharmaceutical plants, including Rheum palmatum, Aloe vera, Giant knotweed, Polygonum multiflorum and Polygonum cuspidatum. The review aims to provide a scientific summary of emodin in pharmacological activities and toxicity in order to identify the therapeutic potential for its use in human specific organs as a new medicine. Based on the fundamental properties, such as anticancer, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, antivirs, anti-diabetes, immunosuppressive and osteogenesis promotion, emodin is expected to become an effective preventive and therapeutic drug of cancer, myocardial infarction, atherosclerosis, diabetes, acute pancreatitis, asthma, periodontitis, fatty livers and neurodegenerative diseases. This article intends to provide a novel insight for further development of emodin, hoping to reveal the potential of emodin and necessity of further studies in this field.

Keywords: Emodin; Pharmacological activities; Therapeutic potential; Toxicity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anthraquinones / pharmacology*
  • Anthraquinones / toxicity*
  • Emodin / pharmacology*
  • Emodin / toxicity*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Structure
  • Plant Bark
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plant Extracts / toxicity*
  • Plant Roots


  • Anthraquinones
  • Plant Extracts
  • Emodin