Rhein for treating diabetes mellitus: A pharmacological and mechanistic overview
With the extension of life expectancy and changes in lifestyle, the prevalence of diabetes mellitus is increasing worldwide. Rheum palmatum L. a natural botanical medicine, has been used for thousands of years to prevent and treat diabetes mellitus in Eastern countries. Rhein, the main active component of rhubarb, is a 1, 8-dihydroxy anthraquinone derivative. Previous studies have extensively explored the clinical application of rhein. However, a comprehensive review of the antidiabetic effects of rhein has not been conducted. This review summarizes studies published over the past decade on the antidiabetic effects of rhein, covering the biological characteristics of Rheum palmatum L. and the pharmacological effects and pharmacokinetic characteristics of rhein. The review demonstrates that rhein can prevent and treat diabetes mellitus by ameliorating insulin resistance, possess anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative stress properties, and protect islet cells, thus providing a theoretical basis for the application of rhein as an antidiabetic agent.