ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-101201-36
Anti-angiogenic effect and mechanism of rhein from Rhizoma Rhei
He, Z.H., Zhou, R., He, M.F., Lau, C.B., Yue, G.G., Ge, W., and But, P.P.
Date: 2011
Source: Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology   18(6): 470-478 (Journal)
Registered Authors: Ge, Wei
Keywords: Anthraquinone, Rhein, Anti-angiogenesis, Zebrafish, HUVECs, Angpt2, Tie2
MeSH Terms:
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors/pharmacology*
  • Angiogenesis Inhibitors/therapeutic use
  • Angiopoietins/metabolism
  • Animals
  • Anthraquinones/pharmacology*
  • Blood Vessels/drug effects*
  • Blood Vessels/growth & development
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal/pharmacology*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal/therapeutic use
  • Endothelial Cells
  • Humans
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic/drug therapy
  • Receptor, TIE-2/metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Rheum/chemistry*
  • Rhizome
  • Umbilical Veins
  • Zebrafish/embryology
  • Zebrafish Proteins/metabolism
PubMed: 21112197 Full text @ Phytomedicine


Rhein is a major bioactive component in rhubarb (Dahuang), a famous traditional Chinese medicine derived from the rhizome of Rheum palmatum and related species. It was reported to have antitumor and anti-inflammatory properties. Our previous studies found rhein displaying potent anti-angiogenic activities in a zebrafish embryo model. Its action mechanisms need further elucidation.


The inhibition effect of vessel formation was checked by microscopic imaging on Tg(fli1a:EGFP)y1 zebrafish embryos. Then the action mechanism of rhein was investigated by semi-quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on wild type zebrafish embryos and further tested on human umbilical vein endothelial cells.


At 20 μM, rhein could almost completely block intersegmental blood vessels formation at both 48 and 72 hpf, and completely inhibit subintestinal vessel plexus formation at 72 hpf. Rhein affected multiple molecular targets related to angiogenesis, particularly angpt2 and tie2, and also inhibited endothelial cell migration.


Rhein could inhibit angiogenesis, which may play a role in antitumor and anti-inflammatory actions.