Bioactive constituents and the molecular mechanism of Curcumae Rhizoma in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea based on network pharmacology and molecular docking

Phytomedicine. 2021 Jun:86:153558. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2021.153558. Epub 2021 Mar 27.


Background: Curcumae Rhizoma (CR) has a clinical efficacy in activating blood circulation to dissipate blood stasis and has been used for the clinical treatment of qi stagnation and blood stasis (QSBS) primary dysmenorrhea for many years. However, its molecular mechanism is unknown.

Objective: The present study aimed to demonstrate the multicomponent, multitarget and multipathway regulatory molecular mechanisms of CR in the treatment of QSBS primary dysmenorrhea.

Methods: Observations of pathological changes in uterine tissues and biochemical assays were used to confirm that a rat model was successfully established and that CR was effective in the treatment of QSBS primary dysmenorrhea. The main active components of CR in rat plasma were identified and screened by ultra-performance liquid chromatography-quadrupole/time-of-flight mass spectrometry (UPLC-Q/TOF-MS). The component-target-disease network and protein-protein interaction (PPI) network of CR were constructed by a network pharmacology approach. Then, we performed Gene Ontology (GO) functional enrichment analysis and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway enrichment analysis. Molecular docking was adopted to verify the interactions between the core components and targets of CR to confirm the accuracy of the network pharmacology prediction results. Furthermore, we evaluated the bioactive constituents of CR and molecular mechanism of by which CR promote blood circulation and remove blood stasis via platelet tests in vivo and in vitro and Western blot analysis.

Results: The results of HE staining and biochemical assays of PGF2α, TXB2 and Ca2+ showed that CR was effective in the treatment of QSBS primary dysmenorrhea. A total of 36 active components were identified in CR, and 329 common targets were obtained and used to construct the networks. Of these, 14 core components and 10 core targets of CR in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea were identified. The GO and KEGG enrichment analyses revealed that the common targets were involved in multiple signaling pathways, including the calcium, cAMP, MAPK, and PI3K-Akt signaling pathways, as well as platelet activation, which is closely related to platelet aggregation. The molecular docking results showed that the 14 core components and 10 core targets could bind spontaneously. Two core targets (MAPK1 and CCR5) and 7 core components (Isoprocurcumenol, Curcumadione, Epiprocurcumenol, (+)-Curdione, Neocurdione, Procurcumenol, and 13-Hydroxygermacrone) were closely related to CR in the treatment of primary dysmenorrhea. Furthermore, the in vivo platelet test showed that CR clearly inhibited platelet aggregation. Five core components ((+)-Curdione, Neocurdione, Isoprocurcumenol, Curcumadione and Procurcumenol) obviously inhibited platelet aggregation in vitro. In addition, based on the relationships among the signaling pathways, we confirmed that CR can effectively inhibit the expression of MAPK and PI3K-Akt signaling pathway-related proteins and decrease the protein expression levels of ERK, JNK, MAPK, PI3K, AKT and CCR5, thereby inhibiting platelet aggregation.

Conclusion: This study demonstrated the bioactive constituents and mechanisms of CR in promoting blood circulation and removing blood stasis and its multicomponent, multitarget and multipathway treatment characteristics in primary dysmenorrhea. The results provide theoretical evidence for the development and utilization of CR.

Keywords: Active components; Molecular docking; Network pharmacology; Platelet aggregation; Primary dysmenorrhea; Rhizoma Curcumae (CR).

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Dinoprost / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / chemistry*
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal / pharmacology*
  • Dysmenorrhea / drug therapy*
  • Dysmenorrhea / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Platelet Aggregation / drug effects
  • Protein Interaction Maps
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Uterus / drug effects
  • Uterus / physiopathology


  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal
  • Dinoprost
  • Calcium