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Molecular mechanism of Ganji Fang in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma based on network pharmacology, molecular docking and experimental verification technology

Affiliation
The First Clinical Medical School, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine ,Guangzhou ,China
Yang, Miaolun;
Affiliation
The First Clinical Medical School, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine ,Guangzhou ,China
Yan, Qian;
Affiliation
The First Clinical Medical School, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine ,Guangzhou ,China
Luo, Yuehua;
Affiliation
The First Clinical Medical School, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine ,Guangzhou ,China
Wang, Boqing;
Affiliation
The First Clinical Medical School, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine ,Guangzhou ,China
Deng, Shicong;
Affiliation
The First Clinical Medical School, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine ,Guangzhou ,China
Luo, Huiyan;
Affiliation
The First Clinical Medical School, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine ,Guangzhou ,China
Ye, Baoqian;
Affiliation
The First Affiliated Hospital, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine ,Guangzhou ,China
Wang, Xiongwen

Background: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a malignant tumor harmful to human health. Ganji Fang (GJF) has good clinical efficacy in the treatment of HCC, but its mechanism is still unclear. Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate the mechanism of action of GJF in the treatment of HCC through network pharmacology, molecular docking and in vitro experiments. Methods: A series of network pharmacology methods were used to identify the potential targets and key pathways of GJF in the treatment of HCC. Then, molecular docking technology was used to explore the binding ability of key active ingredients and targets in GJF. Multiple external databases were used to validate the key targets. In in vitro experiments, we performed MTT assays, wound-healing assays, cell cycle assays, apoptosis assays and RT‒qPCR to verify the inhibitory effect of GJF on the Human hepatoma G2 (HepG2) cells. Result: A total of 162 bioactive components and 826 protein targets of GJF were screened, and 611 potential targets of HCC were identified. Finally, 63 possible targets of GJF acting on HCC were obtained. KEGG enrichment analyses showed that the top five pathways were the cell cycle, cellular senescence, p53 signaling pathway, PI3K/Akt signaling pathway, and progesterone-mediated oocyte maturation. Among them, we verified the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway. CCNE1, PKN1, CCND2, CDK4, EPHA2, FGFR3, CDK6, CDK2 and HSP90AAI were enriched in the PI3K/Akt pathway. The molecular docking results showed that the docking scores of eight active components of GJF with the two targets were all less than -5.0, indicating that they had certain binding activity. In vitro cell experiments showed that GJF could inhibit the proliferation and migration of HepG2 cells, block the cell cycle and induce apoptosis of HepG2 cells, which may be related to the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway. In summary, EPHA2 may be an important target of GJF in HCC, and pachymic acid may be an important critical active compound of GJF that exerts anticancer activity. Conclusion: In general, we demonstrated, for the first time, that the molecular mechanism of GJF in HCC may involve induction of G0/G1 phase cycle arrest through inhibition of the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway and promote apoptosis of hepatoma cell lines. This study provides a scientific basis for the subsequent clinical application of GJF and the in-depth study of its mechanism.

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License Holder: Copyright © 2023 Yang, Yan, Luo, Wang, Deng, Luo, Ye and Wang.

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