Network pharmacology-based study of the molecular mechanisms of Qixuekang in treating COVID-19 during the recovery period

Int J Clin Exp Pathol. 2020 Oct 1;13(10):2677-2690. eCollection 2020.


Objective: In this research, the analytical method of network pharmacology was used to explore Qixuekang molecular mechanism in treating Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) during the recovery period.

Methods: Traditional Chinese Medicine Systems Pharmacology (TCMSP) database was used to collect the active components and corresponding targets of Qixuekang. Disease targets, related to COVID-19 during the recovery period, were collected from the GeneCards database. Protein-Protein interaction (PPI) network was built by using the String database, and analyzing and using Cytoscape 3.7.0 software to screen out hub genes. GO enrichment and KEGG pathway enrichment analysis were analyzed by R 3.6.1 software.

Results: 34 active components of Qixuekang were screened out, and 161 common targets of drug and disease were identified. GO enrichment suggested 141 biologic processes, mainly involving nuclear receptor activity, transcription factor activity, and direct ligand regulated sequence-specific DNA binding. KEGG pathway enrichment suggests 96 signaling pathways, mainly including TNF signaling pathway, IL-17 signal pathway, and C-type lectin receptor signal pathway. The hub genes, screened in the PPI network, were mainly inclusive of CXCL8, CXCL2, CXCL10, ADRA2A, and ADRA2C.

Conclusion: Qixuekang has numerous components and targets in treating COVID-19 during the recovery period. It is mainly applied in anti-inflammatory action and regulating immune defense, which may guide clinical trials in the later stage.

Keywords: COVID-19; Network pharmacology; Qixuekang; mechanism.