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Br J Pharmacol. 2001 Sep;134(1):11-20.

Effects and mechanisms of emodin on cell death in human lung squamous cell carcinoma.

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School of Pharmacy, China Medical College, 91, Hsueh-Shih Road, Taichung, 404, Taiwan.


1. Emodin (1,3,8-trihydroxy-6-methylanthraquinone) is an active component from the root and rhizome of Rheum palmatum that has been reported to exhibit antitumour effects, but the mechanism is not known. The study investigated the effects and mechanisms of emodin-induced cell death in human lung squamous carcinoma cell line CH27. 2. Emodin (50 microM)-induced CH27 cell apoptosis was confirmed by cell morphological change, sub-G1 formation in flow cytometry analysis, viability assay and degradation of focal adhesion kinase in this study. 3. Emodin-induced apoptosis of CH27 cells does not involve modulation of endogenous Bcl-X(L) protein expression, but appears to be associated with the increased expression of cellular Bak and Bax proteins. This study also demonstrated the translocation of Bak and Bax from cytosolic to particulate fractions. 4. This study has shown that emodin-treated CH27 cells revealed the increases in the relative abundance of cytochrome c for the indicated time intervals in cytosolic fraction. 5. This study demonstrates that the activation of caspase-3, caspase-9 and caspase-8 is an important determinant of apoptotic death induced by emodin. 6. These results suggested that emodin induces CH27 cell death by Bax death pathway and Fas pathway.

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