Herb-symptom analysis of Erchen decoction combined with Xiebai powder formula and its mechanism in the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
Background: In recent years, the incidence and mortality rates of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have increased significantly. Erchen Decoction combined with Xiebai Powder (ECXB) formula is mainly used to treat lung diseases in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). However, the active ingredients of ECXB formula, COPD treatment-related molecular targets, and the mechanisms are still unclear. To reveal its underlying action of mechanism, network pharmacology, molecular docking, and molecular dynamic (MD) simulation approaches were used to predict the active ingredients and potential targets of ECXB formula in treating COPD. As a result, Herb-Symptom analysis showed that the symptoms treated by both TCM and modern medicine of ECXB formula were similar to the symptoms of COPD. Network pharmacology identified 170 active ingredients with 137 targets, and 7,002 COPD targets was obtained. 120 targets were obtained by intersection mapping, among which the core targets include MAPK8, ESR1, TP53, MAPK3, JUN, RELA, MAPK1, and AKT1. Functional enrichment analysis suggested that ECXB formula might exert its treat COPD pharmacological effects in multiple biological processes, such as cell proliferation, apoptosis, inflammatory response, and synaptic connections, and ECXB formula treated COPD of the KEGG potential pathways might be associated with the TNF signaling pathway, cAMP signaling pathway, and VEGF signaling pathway. Molecular docking showed that ECXB formula treatment COPD core active ingredients can bind well to core targets. MD simulations showed that the RELA-beta-sitosterol complex and ESR1-stigmasterol complex exhibited higher conformational stability and lower interaction energy, further confirming the role of ECXB formula in the treatment of COPD through these core components and core targets. Our study analyzed the medication rule of ECXB formula in the treatment of COPD from a new perspective and found that the symptoms treated by both TCM and modern medicine of ECXB formula were similar to the symptoms of COPD. ECXB formula could treat COPD through multi-component, multi-target, and multi-pathway synergistic effects, providing a scientific basis for further study on the mechanism of ECXB formula treatment of COPD. It also provides new ideas for drug development.