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De novo production of 24-epi-ergosterol in bioengineered yeast
XU Zi Fei, DONG Liao-Bin
2023, 21(5): 321-322. doi: 10.1016/S1875-5364(23)60426-1
Network pharmacology approaches for research of Traditional Chinese Medicines
LI Xiang, LIU Ziqi, LIAO Jie, CHEN Qian, LU Xiaoyan, FAN Xiaohui
2023, 21(5): 323-332. doi: 10.1016/S1875-5364(23)60429-7
Pharmacodynamics material basis and effective mechanisms are the two main issues to decipher the mechnisms of action of Traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs) for the treatment of diseases. TCMs, in “multi-component, multi-target, multi-pathway” paradigm, show satisfactory clinical results in complex diseases. New ideas and methods are urgently needed to explain the complex interactions between TCMs and diseases. Network pharmacology (NP) provides a novel paradigm to uncover and visualize the underlying interaction networks of TCMs against multifactorial diseases. The development and application of NP has promoted the safety, efficacy, and mechanism investigations of TCMs, which then reinforces the credibility and popularity of TCMs. The current organ-centricity of medicine and the “one disease-one target-one drug” dogma obstruct the understanding of complex diseases and the development of effective drugs. Therefore, more attentions should be paid to shift from “phenotype and symptom” to “endotype and cause” in understanding and redefining current diseases. In the past two decades, with the advent of advanced and intelligent technologies (such as metabolomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, single-cell omics, and artificial intelligence), NP has been improved and deeply implemented, and presented its great value and potential as the next drug-discovery paradigm. NP is developed to cure causal mechanisms instead of treating symptoms. This review briefly summarizes the recent research progress on NP application in TCMs for efficacy research, mechanism elucidation, target prediction, safety evaluation, drug repurposing, and drug design.
Original article
Chang Wei Qing Decoction enhances the anti-tumor effect of PD-1 inhibitor therapy by regulating the immune microenvironment and gut microbiota in colorectal cancer
WANG Ting, WU Linguangjin, WANG Shuyun, SHI Xiaolan, LIU Hui, DENG Wanli
2023, 21(5): 333-345. doi: 10.1016/S1875-5364(23)60451-0
The anti-tumor effect of anti-PD-1 antibody has long been shown to be strongly related to the tumor immune microenvironment (TIME). This study aimed to mechanistically assess whether Chang Wei Qing (CWQ) Decoction can enhance the anti-tumor effect of PD-1 inhibitor therapy. PD-1 inhibitor therapy showed the significant anti-tumor effect in patients with mismatch repair-deficient/microsatellite instability-high (dMMR/MSI-H) colorectal cancer (CRC), rather than those with mismatch repair-proficient/microsatellite stable (pMMR/MSS) CRC. Hence, immunofluorescence double-label staining was utilized to explore the difference in the TIME between dMMR/MSI-H and pMMR/MSS CRC patients. Flow cytometry was used to analyze T-lymphocytes in tumors from mice. Western blot was used to measure the expression of PD-L1 protein in mouse tumors. The intestinal mucosal barrier of mice was evaluated by hematoxylin-eosin staining and immunohistochemistry. 16S rRNA-gene sequencing was used to examine the structure of the gut microbiota in mice. Subsequently, Spearman’s correlation analysis was used to analyze the relationship between the gut microbiota and tumor-infiltrating T-lymphocytes. The results showed that dMMR/MSI-H CRC patients had more CD8+ T cells and higher expression of PD-1 and PD-L1 proteins. In vivo, CWQ enhanced the anti-tumor effect of anti-PD-1 antibody and increased the infiltration of CD8+ and PD-1+CD8+ T cells in tumors. Additionally, the combination of CWQ with anti-PD-1 antibody resulted in lower inflammation in the intestinal mucosa than that induced by anti-PD-1 antibody alone. CWQ and anti-PD-1 antibody co-treatment upregulated PD-L1 protein and reduced the abundance of Bacteroides in the gut microbiota but increased the abundance of Akkermansia, Firmicutes, and Actinobacteria. Additionally, the proportion of infiltrated CD8+PD-1+, CD8+, and CD3+ T cells were found to be positively correlated with the abundance of Akkermansia. Accordingly, CWQ may modulate the TIME by modifying the gut microbiota and consequently enhance the anti-tumor effect of PD-1 inhibitor therapy.
Polygalacin D inhibits the growth of hepatocellular carcinoma cells through BNIP3L-mediated mitophagy and endogenous apoptosis pathways
NAN Fulong, NAN Wenlong, YU Zhongjie, WANG Hui, CUI Xiaoni, JIANG Shasha, ZHANG Xianjuan, LI Jun, WANG Zhifei, ZHANG Shuyun, WANG Bin, LI Yiquan
2023, 21(5): 346-358. doi: 10.1016/S1875-5364(23)60452-2
Platycodon grandiflorum (Jacq.) A. DC. is a famous medicinal plant commonly used in East Asia. Triterpene saponins isolated from P. grandiflorum are the main biologically active compounds, among which polygalacin D (PGD) has been reported to be an anti-tumor agent. However, its anti-tumor mechanism against hepatocellular carcinoma is unknown. This study aimed to explore the inhibitory effect of PGD in hepatocellular carcinoma cells and related mechanisms of action. We found that PGD exerted significant inhibitory effect on hepatocellular carcinoma cells through apoptosis and autophagy. Analysis of the expression of apoptosis-related proteins and autophagy-related proteins revealed that this phenomenon was attributed to the mitochondrial apoptosis and mitophagy pathways. Subsequently, using specific inhibitors, we found that apoptosis and autophagy had mutually reinforcing effects. In addition, further analysis of autophagy showed that PGD induced mitophagy by increasing BCL2 interacting protein 3 like (BNIP3L) levels. In vivo experiments demonstrated that PGD significantly inhibited tumor growth and increased the levels of apoptosis and autophagy in tumors. Overall, our findings showed that PGD induced cell death of hepatocellular carcinoma cells primarily through mitochondrial apoptosis and mitophagy pathways. Therefore, PGD can be used as an apoptosis and autophagy agonist in the research and development of antitumor agents.
Shen Qi Wan attenuates renal interstitial fibrosis through upregulating AQP1
LIN Yiyou, WEI Jiale, ZHANG Yehui, HUANG Junhao, WANG Sichen, LUO Qihan, YU Hongxia, JI Liting, ZHOU Xiaojie, LI Changyu
2023, 21(5): 359-370. doi: 10.1016/S1875-5364(23)60453-4
Renal interstitial fibrosis (RIF) is the crucial pathway in chronic kidney disease (CKD) leading to the end-stage renal failure. However, the underlying mechanism of Shen Qi Wan (SQW) on RIF is not fully understood. In the current study, we investigated the role of Aquaporin 1 (AQP1) in SQW on tubular epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). A RIF mouse model induced by adenine and a TGF-β1-stimulated HK-2 cell model were etablished to explore the involvement of AQP 1 in the protective effect of SQW on EMT in vitro and in vivo. Subsequently, the molecular mechanism of SQW on EMT was explored in HK-2 cells with AQP1 knockdown. The results indicated that SQW alleviated kidney injury and renal collagen deposition in the kidneys of mice induced by adenine, increased the protein expression of E-cadherin and AQP1 expression, and decreased the expression of vimentin and α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA). Similarly, treatmement with SQW-containing serum significantly halted EMT process in TGF-β1 stimulated HK-2 cells. The expression of snail and slug was significantly upregulated in HK-2 cells after knockdown of AQP1. AQP1 knockdown also increased the mRNA expression of vimentin and α-SMA, and decreased the expression of E-cadherin. The protein expression of vimentin increased, while the expression of E-cadherin and CK-18 significantly decreased after AQP1 knockdown in HK-2 cells. These results revealed that AQP1 knockdown promoted EMT. Furthermore, AQP1 knockdown abolished the protective effect of SQW-containing serum on EMT in HK-2 cells. In sum, SQW attentuates EMT process in RIF through upregulation of the expression of AQP1.
Ephedra Herb extract ameliorates adriamycin-induced nephrotic syndrome in rats via the CAMKK2/AMPK/mTOR signaling pathway
ZHANG Yuhan, ZENG Mengnan, LI Benke, ZHANG Beibei, CAO Bing, WU Yuanyuan, YE Shan, XU Ruiqi, ZHENG Xiaoke, FENG Weisheng
2023, 21(5): 371-382. doi: 10.1016/S1875-5364(23)60454-6
This study aimed to investigate the effect and mechanisms of Ephedra Herb (EH) extract on adriamycin-induced nephrotic syndrome (NS), providing an experimental basis for the clinical treatment of NS. Hematoxylin and eosin staining, creatinine, urea nitrogen, and kidn injury molecule-1 were used to evaluate the activities of EH extract on renal function. The levels of inflammatory factors and oxidative stress were detected by kits. The levels of reactive oxygen species, immune cells, and apoptosis were measured by flow cytometry. A network pharmacological approach was used to predict the potential targets and mechanisms of EH extract in the treatment of NS. The protein levels of apoptosis-related proteins and CAMKK2, p-CAMKK2, AMPK, p-AMPK, mTOR and p-mTOR in the kidneys were detected by Western blot. The effective material basis of EH extract was screened by MTT assay. The AMPK pathway inhibitor (compound C, CC) was added to investigate the effect of the potent material basis on adriamycin-induced cell injury. EH extract significantly improved renal injury and relieve inflammation, oxidative stress, and apoptosis in rats. Network pharmacology and Western blot results showed that the effect of EH extract on NS may be associated with the CAMKK2/AMPK/mTOR signaling pathway. Moreover, methylephedrine significantly ameliorated adriamycin-induced NRK-52e cell injury. Methylephedrine also significantly improved the phosphorylation of AMPK and mTOR, which were blocked by CC. In sum, EH extract may ameliorate renal injury via the CAMKK2/AMPK/mTOR signaling pathway. Moreover, methylephedrine may be one of the material bases of EH extract.
Deciphering suppressive effects of Lianhua Qingwen Capsule on COVID-19 and synergistic effects of its major botanical drug pairs
CHEN Yuanyuan, ZHANG Cheng, WANG Ning, FENG Yibin
2023, 21(5): 383-400. doi: 10.1016/S1875-5364(23)60455-8
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in excess deaths worldwide. Conventional antiviral medicines have been used to relieve the symptoms, with limited therapeutic effect. In contrast, Lianhua Qingwen Capsule is reported to exert remarkable anti-COVID-19 effect. The current review aims to: 1) uncover the main pharmacological actions of Lianhua Qingwen Capsule for managing COVID-19; 2) verify the bioactive ingredients and pharmacological actions of Lianhua Qingwen Capsule by network analysis; 3) investigate the compatibility effect of major botanical drug pairs in Lianhua Qingwen Capsule; and 4) clarify the clinical evidence and safety of the combined therapy of Lianhua Qingwen Capsule and conventional drugs. Numerous bioactive ingredients in Lianhu Qingwen, such as quercetin, naringenin, β-sitosterol, luteolin, and stigmasterol, were identified to target host cytokines, and to regulate the immune defence in response to COVID-19. Genes including androgen receptor (AR), myeloperoxidase (MPO), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), insulin (INS), and aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) were found to be significantly involved in the pharmacological actions of Lianhua Qingwen Capsule against COVID-19. Four botanical drug pairs in Lianhua Qingwen Capsule were shown to have synergistic effect for the treatment of COVID-19. Clinical studies demonstrated the medicinal effect of the combined use of Lianhua Qingwen Capsule and conventional drugs against COVID-19. In conclusion, the four main pharmacological mechanisms of Lianhua Qingwen Capsule for managing COVID-19 are revealed. Therapeutic effect has been noted against COVID-19 in Lianhua Qingwen Capsule.