Evaluation of the pharmacological effects and exploration of the mechanism of traditional Chinese medicine preparation Ciwujia tablets in treating insomnia based on ethology, energy metabolism, and urine metabolomic approaches
Ciwujia Tablets (CWT) are produced by concentrating and drying the extract solution of the dried rhizome of Eleutherococcus senticosus (Rupr. & Maxim.) Maxim [Araliaceae; E. senticosus radix et rhizoma]. Besides, CWT is included in the 2020 edition of Chinese Pharmacopoeia and is widely used in the treatment of insomnia. It mainly contains eleutheroside B, eleutheroside E, isofraxidin, eleutheroside C, ciwujiatone, and chlorogenic acid, as well as other chemical components. Although the clinical efficacy of CWT in treating insomnia has been confirmed, its functions and pharmacological effects have not been systematically evaluated and its mechanism of action in the treatment of insomnia remains unclear. Therefore, in this study, behavioral, energy metabolism, and metabonomics methods were applied to systematically evaluate the effect of CWT on insomnia. Additionally, urine metabonomics based on UPLC-Q-TOF-MS/MS were utilized to identify potential endogenous biomarkers of insomnia, detect the various changes before and after CWT treatment, explore the metabolic pathway and potential target of CWT, and reveal its pharmacological mechanism. Results revealed that CWT increased inhibitory neurotransmitter (5-HT and GABA) content and reduced the content of excitatory neurotransmitters (DA and NE). Moreover, CWT enhanced autonomous behavioral activity, stabilized emotions, and promoted the return of daily basic metabolic indexes of insomniac rats to normal levels. The urine metabolomics experiment identified 28 potential endogenous biomarkers, such as allysine, 7,8-dihydroneopterin, 5-phosphonooxy-L-lysine, and N-acetylserotonin. After CWT treatment, the content of 22 biomarkers returned to normal levels. The representative markers included N-acetylserotonin, serotonin, N-methyltryptamine, and 6-hydroxymelatonin. Additionally, the metabolic pathways in rats were significantly reversed, such as tryptophan metabolism, folate biosynthesis, phenylalanine metabolism, and tyrosine metabolism. Ultimately, it is concluded that CWT regulated tryptophan metabolism, folate biosynthesis, phenylalanine metabolism, and other metabolic levels in the body. This drug has been confirmed to be effective in the treatment of insomnia by regulating the content of serotonin, 6-hydroxymelatonin, N-acetylserotonin, and N-methyltryptamine to a stable and normal level in tryptophan metabolism.