Background: Rhein (1,8-dihydroxy-3-carboxyanthraquinone) is a monomer of anthraquinone
derivatives mainly found in Polygonaceae plants such as Rhubarb, and Cuspidatum, widely used in the traditional
Chinese medicine with many pharmacological activities, such as antitumor, anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic
effects, and regulation of glucose and lipid metabolism.
Objective: To conclude the role of Rhein in cancer control and its mechanisms for its futher deep research and
potential clinical application.
Method: All kinds of reports previously related to Rhein from PubMed datebase were collected, integrated and
Results: Rhein could control many cancer cells by regulating their proliferation and apoptosis, invasion and
migration, especially intrinsic and extrinsic apoptosis pathways induced by Rhein plays the core role in cancer
control. For good inhibitory role in NF-κB pathway, the Ras/Raf/MEK (MAPK)/ERK and
PTEN/PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathways are other two key pathways regulated by Rhein with its role in antiphosphorylation
of ERK, PI3K and AKT to control many cancers' development which frequently dysregulated in
cancer, involved in the activation, proliferation, invasion, and migration of cancer cells.
Conclusion: Rhein is a potential cancer treatment agent..