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Systems pharmacology-based approach for dissecting the active ingredients and potential targets of the Chinese herbal Bufei Jianpi formula for the treatment of COPD

Authors Zhao P, Li J, Li Y, Tian Y, Wang Y, Zheng C

Received 8 August 2015

Accepted for publication 23 October 2015

Published 7 December 2015 Volume 2015:10(1) Pages 2633—2656


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Melda Saglam

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Russell

Peng Zhao,1,2 Jiansheng Li,1,2 Ya Li,1,2 Yange Tian,1,2 Yonghua Wang,2,3 Chunli Zheng3

1Key Laboratory of Chinese Internal Medicine, Henan University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2Key Laboratory of Chinese Internal Medicine, Collaborative Innovation Center for Respiratory Disease Diagnosis and Treatment and Chinese Medicine Development of Henan Province, Zhengzhou, 3Center of Bioinformatics, College of Life Science, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, People’s Republic of China

Background: The Chinese herbal Bufei Jianpi formula (BJF) provides an effective treatment option for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). However, the systems-level mechanism underlying the clinical effects of BJF on COPD remains unknown.
Methods: In this study, a systems pharmacology model based on absorption filtering, network targeting, and systems analyses was applied specifically to clarify the active compounds and therapeutic mechanisms of BJF. Then, a rat model of cigarette smoke- and bacterial infection-induced COPD was used to investigate the therapeutic mechanisms of BJF on COPD and its comorbidity.
Results: The pharmacological system successfully identified 145 bioactive ingredients from BJF and revealed 175 potential targets. There was a significant target overlap between the herbal constituents of BJF. These results suggested that each herb of BJF connected with similar multitargets, indicating potential synergistic effects among them. The integrated target–disease network showed that BJF probably was efficient for the treatment of not only respiratory tract diseases but also other diseases, such as nervous system and cardiovascular diseases. The possible mechanisms of action of BJF were related to activation of inflammatory response, immune responses, and matrix metalloproteinases, among others. Furthermore, we demonstrated that BJF treatment could effectively prevent COPD and its comorbidities, such as ventricular hypertrophy, by inhibition of inflammatory cytokine production, matrix metalloproteinases expression, and other cytokine production in vivo.
Conclusion: This study using the systems pharmacology method, in combination with in vivo experiments, helped us successfully dissect the molecular mechanism of BJF for the treatment of COPD and predict the potential targets of the multicomponent BJF, which provides a new approach to illustrate the synergetic mechanism of the complex prescription and discover more effective drugs against COPD.

Keywords: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Bufei Jianpi formula, systems pharma­cology

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