Emodin anthroaquinone health benefit, risk, aloe source
September 6 2016 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Emodin is an anthraquinone found in certain plants including rhubarb and buckthorn
June 26 2015

Tyrosine kinase inhibitor
Emodin is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Tyrosine kinase activity has been associated with certain human cancers.

Anti-inflammatory benefit
Emodin has anti-inflammatory activity.

Bone formation
BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014 Feb 24. Emodin enhances osteogenesis and inhibits adipogenesis. It has been suggested that the formation of osteoblasts in bone marrow is closely associated with adipogenesis, and the balance between osteogenesis and adipogenesis differentiation of MSCs (mesenchymal stem cells) is disrupted in osteoporosis. In order to improve the treatment of osteoporosis, available agents with roles of regulating the balance is highly desirable. Emodin is a natural anthraquinone derivative extracted from Chinese herbs, which have been used to treat bone diseases for thousands of years. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms of emodin in modulating osteogenesis and adipogenesis remain poorly understood. The molecular mechanisms of emodin on the processes of osteogenesis and adipogenesis in ovariectomized mouse and BMSCs (bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells) have been studied. We have analyzed the effects of emodin in vivo and in vitro. Female ICR mice were assigned to three groups: sham group, ovariectomy group, and emodin group. Emodin inhibits adipocyte differentiation and enhances osteoblast differentiation from BMSCs.

Prostate cancer
Mol Med Rep. 2015. Emodin inhibits the proliferation of PC3 prostate cancer cells in vitro via the Notch signaling pathway.

There are concerns with long term use of these substances and caution is advised.

Animal studies

Emodin as an antipsychotic agent for schizophrenia
The anthraquinone derivative emodin ameliorates neurobehavioral deficits of a rodent model for schizophrenia.
J Neural Transm. 2008.
We investigated effects of the anthraquinone derivatives emodin and sennoside. Subchronic oral administration of emodin (50 mg/kg) suppressed acoustic startle responses and abolished prepulse inhibition (PPI) deficits in a rodent model. Sennoside (50 mg/kg) had no effects. Emodin attenuated weight gain initially during treatment but had no apparent effect on weight gain and locomotor activity thereafter. We conclude that emodin can both attenuate EGF receptor signaling and ameliorate behavioral deficits. Therefore, emodin might be a novel class of a pro-drug for anti-psychotic medication.

Reprod Toxicol. 2014. Emodin inhibits human sperm functions by reducing sperm [Ca2+]i and tyrosine phosphorylation. Emodin, a bioactive anthraquinone widely used in Chinese traditional medicine, disrupts mouse testicular gene expression in vivo. In this study, we investigated the toxicity of emodin to human sperm in vitro. Different doses of emodin (25, 50, 100, 200 and 400μM) were applied to ejaculated human sperm. The results indicated that 100, 200 and 400μM emodin significantly inhibited the total motility, progressive motility and linear velocity of human sperm. In addition, sperm's ability to penetrate viscous medium together with progesterone induced capacitation and acrosome reaction were also adversely affected by emodin. In contrast, emodin did not affect sperm viability. Furthermore, intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) and tyrosine phosphorylation, which serve as key regulators of sperm function, were dose-dependently reduced by emodin (50 to 400μM). These results suggest that emodin inhibits human sperm functions by reducing sperm [Ca2+]i and suppressing tyrosine phosphorylation in vitro.

In vitro studies show:
Emodin is a potent profibrinolytic and wound healing agent.
It induces growth inhibition and apoptosis in human myeloid leukemia HL-60 cells. Akt signal pathway may be involved in this process.

Polygonum cuspidatum
Four anthraquinones, physcion, emodin, citreorosein and anthraglycoside B, and two stilbenes, resveratrol, and piceid, are found in the root of Polygonum cuspidatum.

Anthraquinones are moderate to strong inhibitors of tyrosinase. Physcion exhibit has potent tyrosinase inhibition and is comparable to kojic acid. Anthraquinones permeate skin. Physcion can permeate skin more potently than emodin. As naturally occurring tyrosinase inhibitors, anthraquinones from Polygonum cuspidatum may be useful as skin-whitening agents to inhibit tyrosinase for dermal use.