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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 578107, 10 pages
Review Article

Rhein: A Review of Pharmacological Activities

1Central Laboratory, Shanghai Seventh People’s Hospital, Shanghai 200137, China
2Key Laboratory of Standardization of Chinese Herbal Medicines of Ministry of Education, Pharmacy College, Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu 610075, China
3Department of Nuclear Medicine, Shanghai Seventh People’s Hospital, Shanghai 200137, China
4School of Pharmacy and Biomolecular Sciences, Faculty of Science, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool L3 3AF, UK
5Department of Pharmaceutical Botany, School of Pharmacy, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai 200433, China

Received 7 March 2015; Revised 13 May 2015; Accepted 25 May 2015

Academic Editor: Antonella Fioravanti

Copyright © 2015 Yan-Xi Zhou 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.


Rhein (4, 5-dihydroxyanthraquinone-2-carboxylic acid) is a lipophilic anthraquinone extensively found in medicinal herbs, such as Rheum palmatum L., Cassia tora L., Polygonum multiflorum Thunb., and Aloe barbadensis Miller, which have been used medicinally in China for more than 1,000 years. Its biological activities related to human health are being explored actively. Emerging evidence suggests that rhein has many pharmacological effects, including hepatoprotective, nephroprotective, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, and antimicrobial activities. The present review provides a comprehensive summary and analysis of the pharmacological properties of rhein, supporting the potential uses of rhein as a medicinal agent.