REVIEW Aloe emodin is an anthraquinone and an active ingredient of various Chinese herbs. It is present in aloe latex, an exudate from the aloe plant. It has a strong stimulant-laxative action. Aloe emodin is not carcinogenic when applied to the skin, although it may increase the carcinogenicity of some kinds of radiation. Aloe emodin is found in the gel, sap and leaves of Aloe vera, the bark of Frangula (Rhamnus frangula) and Cascara Sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana), the leaves of Senna (Cassia angustifolia), and the rhizome of Rhubarb (Rheum rhaponticum). Emodin, first assigned to be a specific inhibitor of the protein tyrosine kinase p65lck, has now a number of cellular targets interacting with it. Its inhibitory effect on mammalian cell cycle modulation in specific oncogene overexpressed cells formed the basis of using this compound as an anticancer agent. Identification of apoptosis as a mechanism of elimination of cells treated with cytotoxic agents initiated new studies deciphering the mechanism of apoptosis induced by emodin. At present, its role in combination chemotherapy with standard drugs to reduce toxicity and to enhance efficacy is pursued vigorously. Its additional inhibitory effects on angiogenic and metastasis regulatory processes make emodin a sensible candidate as a specific blocker of tumor-associated events. Additionally, because of its quinone structure, emodin may interfere with electron transport process and in altering cellular redox status, which may account for its cytotoxic properties in different systems.
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