Computational Network Pharmacology–Based Strategy to Capture Key Functional Components and Decode the Mechanism of Chai-Hu-Shu-Gan-San in Treating Depression

Kexin Wang, Kai Li, Yupeng Chen, Genxia Wei, Hailang Yu, Yi Li, Wei Meng, Handuo Wang, Li Gao*, Aiping Lu*, Junxiang Peng*, Daogang Guan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) usually plays therapeutic roles on complex diseases in the form of formulas. However, the multicomponent and multitarget characteristics of formulas bring great challenges to the mechanism analysis and secondary development of TCM in treating complex diseases. Modern bioinformatics provides a new opportunity for the optimization of TCM formulas. In this report, a new bioinformatics analysis of a computational network pharmacology model was designed, which takes Chai-Hu-Shu-Gan-San (CHSGS) treatment of depression as the case. In this model, effective intervention space was constructed to depict the core network of the intervention effect transferred from component targets to pathogenic genes based on a novel node importance calculation method. The intervention-response proteins were selected from the effective intervention space, and the core group of functional components (CGFC) was selected based on these intervention-response proteins. Results show that the enriched pathways and GO terms of intervention-response proteins in effective intervention space could cover 95.3 and 95.7% of the common pathways and GO terms that respond to the major functional therapeutic effects. Additionally, 71 components from 1,012 components were predicted as CGFC, the targets of CGFC enriched in 174 pathways which cover the 86.19% enriched pathways of pathogenic genes. Based on the CGFC, two major mechanism chains were inferred and validated. Finally, the core components in CGFC were evaluated by in vitro experiments. These results indicate that the proposed model with good accuracy in screening the CGFC and inferring potential mechanisms in the formula of TCM, which provides reference for the optimization and mechanism analysis of the formula in TCM.

Original languageEnglish
Article number782060
Number of pages17
JournalFrontiers in Pharmacology
Publication statusPublished - 12 Nov 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology (medical)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Chai-Hu-Shu-Gan-San
  • contribution index
  • depression
  • effect propagation space
  • intervention-response proteins
  • network pharmacology model


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