[Study on treatment of "cytokine storm" by anti-2019-nCoV prescriptions based on arachidonic acid metabolic pathway]

Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2020 Mar;45(6):1225-1231. doi: 10.19540/j.cnki.cjcmm.20200224.405.
[Article in Chinese]


Since the outbreak of 2019-nCoV, the epidemic has developed rapidly and the situation is grim. LANCET figured out that the 2019-nCoV is closely related to "cytokine storm". "Cytokine storm" is an excessive immune response of the body to external stimuli such as viruses and bacteria. As the virus attacking the body, it stimulates the secretion of a large number of inflammatory factors: interleukin(IL), interferon(IFN), C-X-C motif chemokine(CXCL) and so on, which lead to cytokine cascade reaction. With the exudation of inflammatory factors, cytokines increase abnormally in tissues and organs, interfering with the immune system, causing excessive immune response of the body, resulting in diffuse damage of lung cells, pulmonary fibrosis, and multiple organ damage, even death. Arachidonic acid(AA) metabolic pathway is principally used to synthesize inflammatory cytokines, such as monocyte chemotactic protein 1(MCP-1), tumor necrosis factor(TNF), IL, IFN, etc., which is closely related to the occurrence, development and regression of inflammation. Therefore, the inhibition of AA metabolism pathway is benefit for inhibiting the release of inflammatory factors in the body and alleviating the "cytokine storm". Based on the pharmacophore models of the targets on AA metabolic pathway, the traditional Chinese medicine database 2009(TCMD 2009) was screened. The potential herbs were ranked by the number of hit molecules, which were scored by pharmacophore fit value. In the end, we obtained the potential active prescriptions on "cytokine storm" according to the potential herbs in the "National novel coronavirus pneumonia diagnosis and treatment plan(trial version sixth)". The results showed that the hit components with the inhibitory effect on AA were magnolignan Ⅰ, lonicerin and physcion-8-O-β-D-glucopy-ranoside, which mostly extracted from Magnoliae Officinalis Cortex, Zingiberis Rhizoma Recens, Lonicerae Japonicae Flos, Rhei Radix et Rhizoma, Salviae Miltiorrhizae Radix et Rhizoma, Scutellariae Radix, Gardeniae Fructus, Ginseng Radix et Rhizoma, Arctii Fructus, Dryopteridis Crassirhizomatis Rhizoma, Paeoniaeradix Rubra, Dioscoreae Rhizoma. Finally the anti-2019-nCoV prescriptions were analyzed to obtain the potential active prescriptions on AA metabolic pathway, Huoxiang Zhengqi Capsules, Jinhua Qinggan Granules, Lianhua Qingwen Capsules, Qingfei Paidu Decoction, Xuebijing Injection, Reduning Injection and Tanreqing Injection were found that may prevent 2019-nCoV via regulate cytokines. This study intends to provide reference for clinical use of traditional Chinese medicine to resist new coronavirus.

Keywords: "cytokine storm"; 2019-nCoV; arachidonic acid metabolic pathway; traditional Chinese medicine; virtual screening.

MeSH terms

  • Arachidonic Acid / metabolism*
  • Betacoronavirus
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Coronavirus Infections / immunology*
  • Cytokines / immunology*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / drug therapy*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / immunology*
  • SARS-CoV-2


  • Cytokines
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Arachidonic Acid

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19 drug treatment