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Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia in the elderly, characterized by a progressive and irreversible loss of memory and cognitive abilities. Currently, the prevention and treatment of AD still remains a huge challenge. As a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) prescription, Danggui-Shaoyao-san decoction (DSS) has been demonstrated to be effective for alleviating AD symptoms in animal experiments and clinical applications. However, due to the complex components and biological actions, its underlying molecular mechanism and effective substances are not yet fully elucidated. In this study, we firstly systematically reviewed and summarized the molecular effects of DSS against AD based on current literatures of in vivo studies. Furthermore, an integrated systems pharmacology framework was proposed to explore the novel anti-AD mechanisms of DSS and identify the main active components. We further developed a network-based predictive model for identifying the active anti-AD components of DSS by mapping the high-quality AD disease genes into the global drug-target network. We constructed a global drug-target network of DSS consisting 937 unique compounds and 490 targets by incorporating experimental and computationally predicted drug-target interactions (DTIs). Multi-level systems pharmacology analyses revealed that DSS may regulate multiple biological pathways related to AD pathogenesis, such as the oxidative stress and inflammatory reaction processes. We further conducted a network-based statistical model, drug-likeness analysis, human intestinal absorption (HIA) and blood-brain barrier (BBB) penetration prediction to uncover the key ani-AD ingredients in DSS. Finally, we highlighted 9 key ingredients and validated their synergistic role against AD through a subnetwork. Overall, this study proposed an integrative systems pharmacology approach to disclose the therapeutic mechanisms of DSS against AD, which also provides novel in silico paradigm for investigating the effective substances of complex TCM prescription.


Qihui Wu, Yunbo Chen, Yong Gu, Shuhuan Fang, Weirong Li, Qi Wang, Jiansong Fang, Chuipu Cai. Systems pharmacology-based approach to investigate the mechanisms of Danggui-Shaoyao-san prescription for treatment of Alzheimer's disease. BMC complementary medicine and therapies. 2020 Sep 18;20(1):282

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PMID: 32948180

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