Molecular networks for the study of TCM pharmacology

Brief Bioinform. 2010 Jul;11(4):417-30. doi: 10.1093/bib/bbp063. Epub 2009 Dec 28.


To target complex, multi-factorial diseases more effectively, there has been an emerging trend of multi-target drug development based on network biology, as well as an increasing interest in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that applies a more holistic treatment to diseases. Thousands of years' clinic practices in TCM have accumulated a considerable number of formulae that exhibit reliable in vivo efficacy and safety. However, the molecular mechanisms responsible for their therapeutic effectiveness are still unclear. The development of network-based systems biology has provided considerable support for the understanding of the holistic, complementary and synergic essence of TCM in the context of molecular networks. This review introduces available sources and methods that could be utilized for the network-based study of TCM pharmacology, proposes a workflow for network-based TCM pharmacology study, and presents two case studies on applying these sources and methods to understand the mode of action of TCM recipes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional*
  • Pharmacology*