Molecular mechanisms of quetiapine bidirectional regulation of bipolar depression and mania based on network pharmacology and molecular docking: Evidence from computational biology

J Affect Disord. 2024 Jun 15:355:528-539. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2024.03.096. Epub 2024 Mar 20.


Background: Quetiapine monotherapy is recommended as the first-line option for acute mania and acute bipolar depression. However, the mechanism of action of quetiapine is unclear. Network pharmacology and molecular docking were employed to determine the molecular mechanisms of quetiapine bidirectional regulation of bipolar depression and mania.

Methods: Putative target genes for quetiapine were collected from the GeneCard, SwissTargetPrediction, and DrugBank databases. Targets for bipolar depression and bipolar mania were identified from the DisGeNET and GeneCards databases. A protein-protein interaction (PPI) network was generated using the String database and imported into Cytoscape. DAVID and the Bioinformatics platform were employed to perform the Gene Ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) analyses of the top 15 core targets. The drug-pathway-target-disease network was constructed using Cytoscape. Finally, molecular docking was performed to evaluate the interactions between quetiapine and potential targets.

Results: Targets for quetiapine actions against bipolar depression (126 targets) and bipolar mania (81 targets) were identified. Based on PPI and KEGG pathway analyses, quetiapine may affect bipolar depression by targeting the MAPK and PI3K/AKT insulin signaling pathways via BDNF, INS, EGFR, IGF1, and NGF, and it may affect bipolar mania by targeting the neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction signaling pathway via HTR1A, HTR1B, HTR2A, DRD2, and GRIN2B. Molecular docking revealed good binding affinity between quetiapine and potential targets.

Limitations: Pharmacological experiments should be conducted to verify and further explore these results.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that quetiapine affects bipolar depression and bipolar mania through distinct biological core targets, and thus through different mechanisms. Furthermore, our results provide a theoretical basis for the clinical use of quetiapine and possible directions for new drug development.

Keywords: Bipolar disorder; Molecular docking; Network pharmacology; Quetiapine.

MeSH terms

  • Bipolar Disorder* / drug therapy
  • Computational Biology
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal*
  • Humans
  • Mania
  • Molecular Docking Simulation
  • Network Pharmacology
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Quetiapine Fumarate / pharmacology
  • Quetiapine Fumarate / therapeutic use


  • Quetiapine Fumarate
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Drugs, Chinese Herbal