Mechanism of Dayuanyin in the treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 based on network pharmacology and molecular docking

Chin Med. 2020 Jun 12;15:62. doi: 10.1186/s13020-020-00346-6. eCollection 2020.


Background: At present, coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, is spreading all over the world, with disastrous consequences for people of all countries. The traditional Chinese medicine prescription Dayuanyin (DYY), a classic prescription for the treatment of plague, has shown significant effects in the treatment of COVID-19. However, its specific mechanism of action has not yet been clarified. This study aims to explore the mechanism of action of DYY in the treatment of COVID-19 with the hope of providing a theoretical basis for its clinical application.

Methods: First, the TCMSP database was searched to screen the active ingredients and corresponding target genes of the DYY prescription and to further identify the core compounds in the active ingredient. Simultaneously, the Genecards database was searched to identify targets related to COVID-19. Then, the STRING database was applied to analyse protein-protein interaction, and Cytoscape software was used to draw a network diagram. The R language and DAVID database were used to analyse GO biological processes and KEGG pathway enrichment. Second, AutoDock Vina and other software were used for molecular docking of core targets and core compounds. Finally, before and after application of DYY, the core target gene IL6 of COVID-19 patients was detected by ELISA to validate the clinical effects.

Results: First, 174 compounds, 7053 target genes of DYY and 251 genes related to COVID-19 were selected, among which there were 45 target genes of DYY associated with treatment of COVID-19. This study demonstrated that the use of DYY in the treatment of COVID-19 involved a variety of biological processes, and DYY acted on key targets such as IL6, ILIB, and CCL2 through signaling pathways such as the IL-17 signaling pathway, AGE-RAGE signaling pathway in diabetic complications, and cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction. DYY might play a vital role in treating COVID-19 by suppressing the inflammatory storm and regulating immune function. Second, the molecular docking results showed that there was a certain affinity between the core compounds (kaempferol, quercetin, 7-Methoxy-2-methyl isoflavone, naringenin, formononetin) and core target genes (IL6, IL1B, CCL2). Finally, clinical studies showed that the level of IL6 was elevated in COVID-19 patients, and DYY can reduce its levels.

Conclusions: DYY may treat COVID-19 through multiple targets, multiple channels, and multiple pathways and is worthy of clinical application and promotion.

Keywords: Coronavirus disease 2019; Dayuanyin; Mechanism research; Molecular docking; Network pharmacology.