Identifying target organ location of Radix Achyranthis Bidentatae: a bioinformatics approach on active compounds and genes
Background: Herbal medicines traditionally target organs for treatment based on medicinal properties, and this theory is widely used for prescriptions. However, the scientific evidence explaining how herbs act on specific organs by biological methods has been still limited. This study used bioinformatic tools to identify the target organ locations of Radix Achyranthis Bidentatae (RAB), a blood-activating herb that nourishes the liver and kidney, strengthens bones, and directs prescription to the lower body. Methods: RAB’s active compounds and targets were collected and predicted using databases such as TCMSP, HIT2.0, and BATMAN-TCM. Next, the RAB’s target list was analyzed based on two approaches to obtain target organ locations. DAVID and Gene ORGANizer enrichment-based approaches were used to enrich an entire gene list, and the BioGPS and HPA gene expression-based approaches were used to analyze the expression of core genes. Results: RAB’s targets were found to be involved in whole blood, blood components, and lymphatic organs across all four tools. Each tool indicated a particular aspect of RAB’s target organ locations: DAVID-enriched genes showed a predominance in blood, liver, and kidneys; Gene ORGANizer showed the effect on low body parts as well as bones and joints; BioGPS and HPA showed high gene expression in bone marrow, lymphoid tissue, and smooth muscle. Conclusion: Our bioinformatics-based target organ location prediction can serve as a modern interpretation tool for the target organ location theory of traditional medicine. Future studies should predict therapeutic target organ locations in complex prescriptions rather than single herbs and conduct experiments to verify predictions.