Constitution of a comprehensive phytochemical profile and network pharmacology based investigation to decipher molecular mechanisms of Teucrium polium L. in the treatment of type 2 diabetes mellitus

PeerJ. 2020 Oct 22:8:e10111. doi: 10.7717/peerj.10111. eCollection 2020.


Background: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a metabolic disease affecting a huge population worldwide. Teucrium polium L. has been used as a folk medicine for the treatment of T2DM in Anatolia, Turkey. The antihyperglycemic effect of the plant was reported previously. However, there was no detailed study on the underlying molecular mechanisms. In this study, we generated a research plan to clarify the active constituents of the extract and uncover the molecular mechanisms using network pharmacology analysis.

Methods: For this purpose, we composed a dataset of 126 compounds for the phytochemical profile of the aerial parts of T. polium. Drug-likeness of the compounds was evaluated, and 52 compounds were selected for further investigation. A total of 252 T2DM related targets hit by selected compounds were subjected to DAVID database.

Results: The KEGG pathway analysis showed enrichment for the TNF signaling pathway, insulin resistance, the HIF-1 signaling pathway, apoptosis, the PI3K-AKT signaling pathway, the FOXO signaling pathway, the insulin signaling pathway, and type 2 diabetes mellitus which are related to T2DM . AKT1, IL6, STAT3, TP53, INS, and VEGFA were found to be key targets in protein-protein interaction. Besides these key targets, with this study the role of GSK3β, GLUT4, and PDX1 were also discussed through literature and considered as important targets in the antidiabetic effect of T. polium. Various compounds of T. polium were shown to interact with the key targets activating PI3K-AKT and insulin signaling pathways.

Conclusions: According to these findings, mainly phenolic compounds were identified as the active components and IRS1/PI3K/AKT signaling and insulin resistance were identified as the main pathways regulated by T. polium. This study reveals the relationship of the compounds in T. polium with the targets of T2DM in human. Our findings suggested the use of T. polium as an effective herbal drug in the treatment of T2DM and provides new insights for further research on the antidiabetic effect of T. polium.

Keywords: Diabetes mellitus; Drug discovery; Insulin resistance; Network pharmacology; Target prediction; Teucrium polium.

Grants and funding

The authors received no funding for this work.