Systems biology of meridians, acupoints, and chinese herbs in disease

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:372670. doi: 10.1155/2012/372670. Epub 2012 Oct 18.


Meridians, acupoints, and Chinese herbs are important components of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). They have been used for disease treatment and prevention and as alternative and complementary therapies. Systems biology integrates omics data, such as transcriptional, proteomic, and metabolomics data, in order to obtain a more global and complete picture of biological activity. To further understand the existence and functions of the three components above, we reviewed relevant research in the systems biology literature and found many recent studies that indicate the value of acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Acupuncture is useful in pain moderation and relieves various symptoms arising from acute spinal cord injury and acute ischemic stroke. Moreover, Chinese herbal extracts have been linked to wound repair, the alleviation of postmenopausal osteoporosis severity, and anti-tumor effects, among others. Different acupoints, variations in treatment duration, and herbal extracts can be used to alleviate various symptoms and conditions and to regulate biological pathways by altering gene and protein expression. Our paper demonstrates how systems biology has helped to establish a platform for investigating the efficacy of TCM in treating different diseases and improving treatment strategies.