Cholesterol-lowering effects of rhubarb free anthraquinones and their mechanism of action

Eur J Pharmacol. 2024 Mar 5:966:176348. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2024.176348. Epub 2024 Jan 28.


Rhubarb free anthraquinones (RhA) have significant lipid-regulating activity. However, whether RhA monomers have a role in lipid-regulating and their mechanism of action remains unclear. Based on the cholesterol accumulated HepG2 cell model, the cholesterol-regulating effect of RhA monomers and their combinations was investigated. The expression of sterol-regulatory element binding protein 2 (SREBP2), 3-hydroxy-3-methyl glutaryl coenzyme A reductase (HMGCR) and squalene monooxygenase (SQLE) of the model cells was analyzed to preliminarily explore the mechanism of action. After that, the liposomes of each active RhA monomer were separately prepared with the same lipid materials and the same preparation method so that each monomer has similar or equal bioavailability after oral administration to rats. Finally, the hypercholesterolemic rat model was established, and the effect of active RhA monomers loaded liposomes as well as their combinations on cholesterol-regulating was investigated and their mechanism of action was analyzed. The results showed that aloe-emodin, rhein and emodin were the main cholesterol-regulating components of RhA, and the combination of rhein and emodin showed significant cholesterol-lowering effect, which may be related to the expression of SREBP2, HMGCR and SQLE in the rat liver.

Keywords: Cholesterol synthesis; Hypercholesterolemia; Liposomes; Mechanism of action; Rhubarb free anthraquinones.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthraquinones / pharmacology
  • Anthraquinones / therapeutic use
  • Emodin*
  • Lipids
  • Liposomes
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Rheum*


  • rhein
  • Emodin
  • Liposomes
  • Anthraquinones
  • Lipids