Exploring the mechanism of three herb pairs for the treatment of atherosclerosis through network pharmacology and molecular modeling
Background: Atherosclerosis (AS) is one of the leading causes of cardiovascular diseases. The traditional China herb pairs such as Huanglian-Gualou, Honghua-Taoren, and Suhexiang-Bingpian showed therapeutic effects on AS by clearing heat and resolving phlegm, invigorating blood and removing blood stasis, as well as aromatic resuscitation, respectively. However, the common and specific mechanisms of these pairs against the same disease are elusive.
Objective: This study aimed to explore the molecular mechanisms of 3 herb pairs treating AS by network pharmacology, molecular modeling and mechanism experiments.
Methods: The components and their corresponding targets of 3 herb pairs, as well as AS-related targets, were collected from multiple databases and literature. Then the protein-protein interaction network was built to identify the key components and targets associated with AS. The pathway enrichment analysis using KEGG was carried out for analyzing the common mechanisms of 3 herb pairs against AS. Finally, the binding modes of the key components and targets were analyzed by molecular docking and molecular dynamic simulation.
Results: The PPI network indicated that the common targets of 3 herb pairs focused on four pathways, including regulated vascular shear stress, TNF, ARE-RAGE, and IL-17 pathways. The molecular docking analysis indicated that the key component quercetin showed highest docking score with PTGS2 in comparison to other targets. Molecular dynamics simulations revealed that quercetin stably anchored to the active pocket of PTGS2 by forming hydrogen bonds with Thr175, Asn351, and Trp356.
Conclusion: The molecular mechanism of Huanglian-Gualou, Honghua-Taoren, and Suhexiang-Bingpian against AS was preliminarily expounded, and we wish to provide a theoretical instruction for clinical treatment of AS.