Toxicology & Carcinogenesis Studies of Emodin
Abstract: Emodin is a naturally occurring anthraquinone present in the roots and bark of numerous plants of the genus Rhamnus . Extracts from the roots, bark, and/or dried leaves of buckthorn, senna, cascara, aloe, frangula, and rhubarb have been used as laxatives since ancient times and currently are widely used in the preparation of herbal laxative preparations. Anthraquinone glyco- sides are poorly absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract but are cleaved by gut bacteria to produce agly- cones (such as emodin) that are more readily absorbed and are responsible for the purgative properties of these preparations. There is extensive exposure to emodin and other anthraquinones resulting from the use of herb-based stimulant laxatives. Reports that 1,8-dihydroxyanthraquinone, a commonly used laxa- tive ingredient, caused tumors in the gastrointestinal tract of rats raised the possibility of an association between colorectal cancer and the use of laxatives containing anthraquinones. Because emodin is a hydroxyanthraquinone structurally similar to 1,8-dihy- droxyanthraquinone, is present in herbal laxatives, and was reported to be mutagenic in bacteria, it was considered a potential carcinogen and was selected for in-depth evaluation. Male and female F344/N rats and B6C3F 1 mice were exposed to emodin (at least 94% pure) in feed for 16 days, 14 weeks, or 2 years. Genetic toxicology studies were conducted in Salmonella typhimurium , cultured Chinese hamster ovary cells, rat and mouse bone marrow cells, and mouse peripheral blood erythrocytes.