• aloe emodin;
  • apoptosis;
  • calpain-2;
  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • Huh-7 cells;
  • ubiquitin-protein ligase E3A


Natural flavonoids are associated with anti-proliferation of cancer growth. However, the antioxidant and anti-proliferation effects of AE (aloe-emodin) have not been well studied. We have investigated how AE affects the proliferation of hepatic hepatocellular carcinoma cells and exerts an anti-cancer effect. The cytotoxic effect of AE was demonstrated using an MTT [3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl-2H-tetrazolium bromide] assay and Huh-7 cells were inhibited by AE treatment in both dose- and time-dependent manners. The IC50 level of AE was ∼75 μM. AE also has anti-proliferative effects via induction of DNA damage and apoptosis. 2-DE (two-dimensional electrophoresis) revealed that several proteins were related to the anti-cancer effects of AE. CAPN2 (calpain-2) and UBE3A (ubiquitin-protein ligase E3A), which are associated with the apoptosis signalling pathway, were verified by Western blotting. AE exhibited potent anti-proliferative effects on Huh-7 cells via down-regulation of CAPN2 and UBE3A. The findings support the possibility of AE being a chemopreventative agent.