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Exp Ther Med. 2016 Nov;12(5):3369-3374. Epub 2016 Oct 11.

Emodin inhibits migration and invasion of MHCC-97H human hepatocellular carcinoma cells.

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Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Changhai Hospital, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai 200433, P.R. China.


Emodin, an anthraquinone derivative from the root and rhizome of Rheum palmatum L., was found to have antitumor effects in different types of cancer by regulating multi-molecular targets. The aim of the present study was to explore the effect of emodin on the migration and invasion of MHCC-97H human hepatocellular carcinoma cells and the underlying molecular mechanisms. Firstly, it was demonstrated that emodin can inhibit cell proliferation and induce apoptosis of cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner, using a MTT assay and flow cytometry, respectively. However, when emodin concentration was <50 µmol/l, it had little effect on the inhibition of proliferation or the induction of apoptosis. Then, it was observed that emodin can significantly suppress cell migration and invasion with a treatment dose <50 µmol/l compared with the control (P<0.05), which was not attributed to a decrease in cell number. Further study demonstrated that emodin significantly suppressed the expression levels of matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9 compared with the control, which may be mediated by the activation of the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) signaling pathway and suppression of extracellular signal regulated kinase (ERK)/MAPK and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt signaling pathways. Therefore, the present study, for the first time, used MHCC-97H cells, which have the high potential of malignant invasion, to demonstrate that emodin may inhibit cell migration and invasion.


emodin; human hepatocellular carcinoma; invasion; migration; molecular mechanisms

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