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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014, Article ID 404853, 7 pages
Research Article

Rhein Induces a Necrosis-Apoptosis Switch in Pancreatic Acinar Cells

Pancreatic Diseases Research Group, Department of Integrative Medicine, West China Hospital, Sichuan University, Chengdu 610041, China

Received 10 February 2014; Revised 5 April 2014; Accepted 23 April 2014; Published 13 May 2014

Academic Editor: Shuang-En Chuang

Copyright © 2014 Xianlin Zhao et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objectives. The Chinese herbal medicine Da-Cheng-Qi decoction can regulate a necrosis-apoptosis switch in injured pancreatic acinar cells. This study investigated the effects of rhein, a component of this medicine, on a necrosis-apoptosis switch in pancreatic rat AR42J cells. Methods. Cerulein-treated AR42J cells were used. After pretreatment with 479, 119.8, or 29.9 μg/L rhein, cells were cocultured with rhein and cerulein (10−8 M) for 4, 8, or 16 h. Apoptosis and necrosis were examined using annexin V and propidium iodide costaining. Mitochondria-dependent apoptosis-associated proteins were examined using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and western blotting. Results. Few cells died in untreated samples. The number was significantly higher in 16-h-cerulein-treated samples and treatment with 479 μg/L rhein most effectively increased the apoptotic-to-necrotic cell ratio (). In cerulein-treated cells, rhein increased the concentrations of p53, cytochrome C, and caspase-3, and increased the Bax/Bcl-2 ratio in a time- and dose-dependent manner, with the maximum effect in cells treated with 479 μg/L rhein for 16 h (). Conclusions. Rhein induces the necrosis-apoptosis switch in injured pancreatic acinar cells in a time- and dose-dependent manner. Mitochondria-dependent apoptosis signaling pathways might play an important role in this effect.