NYMC Faculty Publications

Using a System Pharmacology Method to Search for the Potential Targets and Pathways of Yinqiaosan Against COVID-19

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Journal of Healthcare Engineering

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Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology


The first reported case of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) occurred in Wuhan, Hubei, China. Thereafter, it spread through China and worldwide in only a few months, reaching a pandemic level. It can cause severe respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia and lung failure. Since the onset of the disease, the rapid response and intervention of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) have played a significant role in the effective control of the epidemic. Yinqiaosan (YQS) was used to treat COVID-19 pneumonia, with good curative effects. However, a systematic overview of its active compounds and the therapeutic mechanisms underlying its action has yet to be performed. The purpose of the current study is to explore the compounds and mechanism of YQS in treating COVID-19 pneumonia using system pharmacology. A system pharmacology method involving drug-likeness assessment, oral bioavailability forecasting, virtual docking, and network analysis was applied to estimate the active compounds, hub targets, and key pathways of YQS in the treatment of COVID-19 pneumonia. With this method, 117 active compounds were successfully identified in YQS, and 77 potential targets were obtained from the targets of 95 compounds and COVID-19 pneumonia. The results show that YQS may act in treating COVID-19 pneumonia and its complications (atherosclerosis and nephropathy) through Kaposi sarcoma-related herpesvirus infection and the AGE-RAGE signaling pathway in diabetic complications and pathways in cancer. We distinguished the hub molecular targets within pathways such as TNF, GAPDH, MAPK3, MAPK1, EGFR, CASP3, MAPK8, mTOR, IL-2, and MAPK14. Five of the more highly active compounds (acacetin, kaempferol, luteolin, naringenin, and quercetin) have anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties. In summary, by introducing a systematic network pharmacology method, our research perfectly forecasts the active compounds, potential targets, and key pathways of YQS applied to COVID-19 and helps to comprehensively clarify its mechanism of action.