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J Clin Transl Res. 2017 Sep 7;3(3):283-296. eCollection 2018 Jan 15.

Anti-cancer effects of aloe-emodin: a systematic review.

Author information

Department of Medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida, United States.
Glow Health, PA, Bay Harbor Islands, Florida, United States.
Wellness Quest, LLC, Grand Prairie, Texas, United States.
Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida, United States.
Department of Family Medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida, United States.



Anthraquinones are a possible treatment option for oncological patients due to their anti-cancer properties. Cancer patients often exhaust a plethora of resources that ultimately fail to provide fully curative measures. Alternative treatments are subsequently sought in the hope of finding a therapeutic remedy. Po¬tential regimens include aloe-emodin and its related derivatives. This review therefore summarizes the effects of aloe-emodin and other aloe components in light of their anti-proliferative and anti-carcinogenic properties.


A systematic search was performed in PubMed for aloe-emodin and cancer in humans. Sixty abstracts of in vitrostudies were selected and reviewed with subsequent screening of the full text. Thirty-eight articles were summarized.


Aloe-emodin possesses multiple anti-proliferative and anti-carcinogenic properties in a host of human cancer cell lines, with often multiple vital pathways affected by the same molecule. The most notable effects include inhibition of cell proliferation, migration, and invasion; cycle arrest; induction of cell death; mitochondrial membrane and redox perturbations; and modulation of immune signaling. The effects of aloe-emodin are not ubiquitous across all cell lines but depend on cell type.


On the basis of this systematic review, the multiple consistent effects of aloe-emodin in hu¬man-derived cancer cell lines suggest that aloe-emodin is a potential anti-cancer agent that acts on cancer cells in a pleiotropic manner.

Relevance for patients:

Cancer patients often utilize alternative therapies as a result of suboptimal efficacy of conventional treatments. Aloe-emodin might become a therapeutic option for cancer patients if the basic research is confirmed in clinical trials.


aloe vera; anthraquinones; anti-cancer properties; immune signaling; in vitromolecular pharmacology; tumor biochemistry


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