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Am J Chin Med. 2009;37(5):923-31.

Rhein lysinate suppresses the growth of tumor cells and increases the anti-tumor activity of Taxol in mice.

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  • 1Beijing Geriatric Institute, Beijing Hospital, Beijing, China.


In previous studies, rhein, one of the major bioactive constituents in the rhizome of rhubarb, inhibited the proliferation of various human cancer cells. However, because of its water insolubility, the anti-tumor efficacy of rhein was limited in vivo. In this study, we observed the anti-tumor activity of rhein lysinate (the salt of rhein and lysine easily dissolves in water) in vivo and investigated its mechanism. Inhibition of ovarian cancer SKOV-3 cell proliferation was determined by MTT assay and the mechanism of action of rhein lysinate was investigated by Western blot analysis. The therapeutic efficacy of rhein lysinate was evaluated by intragastric and intraperitoneal administrations in H22 hepatocellular carcinoma mice. Rhein lysinate inhibited the proliferation of SKOV-3 cells and the IC50 value was 80 microM. Rhein lysinate inhibited the phosphorylation of MEK and ERK and increased the anti-tumor activity of Taxol in vitro. It inhibited tumor growth by both intragastric and intraperitoneal administrations and improved the therapeutic effect of Taxol in H22 hepatocellular carcinoma mice. In conclusion, rhein lysinate offers an anti-tumor activity in vivo and is hopeful to be a chemotherapeutic drug.

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