Main Article Content
Network pharmacology is a new approach that integrates computer technology, systems biology, high-throughput screening, etc. It can clarify the complex relationship between "drug-target-pathway-disease". This research is to study the pharmacological mechanism of New Fuzheng Chuyi granules (NFCG) on acute upper respiratory tract infection (acute URTI)and to conduct experimental verification based on computer simulation. The active components and targets of NFCG were screened from TCMSP and TCMIP databases with computer, and the predicted targets of acute URTI were screened and the intersection targets of NFCG and acute URTI were selected through GeneCard database. Cytoscape 3.7.2 software was used to construct the regulatory network of "component-target", and the protein-protein interaction network was constructed and the core proteins in the network were selected through STRING online website. R language and Bioconductor platform were used for the GO enrichment analysis and KEGG metabolic pathway enrichment analysis on the intersection targets. The molecular docking experiment was carried out using AutoDock Vina (v1.1.2). The mechanism of NFCG in the treatment of acute URTI in mice was verified by detecting the level of inflammatory factors by ELISA and the expression of p-Akt and NF-κB proteins by Western blot in the lung tissue of mice. A total of 32 active components and 99 effective targets of NFCG were screened out. The GO enrichment analysis and KEGG metabolic pathway enrichment analysis simulated and predicted that the mechanism of NFCG in the treatment of acute URTI in mice might be closely related to some biological processes, such as apoptosis, inflammatory reaction, oxidative stress and PI3K-Akt signaling pathway. The molecular docking results showed that the active components of NFCG had a strong binding ability to the target proteins. The experimental results showed that compared with those in the model group, the levels of inflammatory factors IL-1, IL-4, IL-6, IFN-γ and TNF-α were significantly decreased, and the expressions of p-Akt and NF-κB proteins were down-regulated. The organic combination of computer technology and systems biology provides a new idea for the study of the action mechanism of TCM prescriptions. NFCG can play a therapeutic and protective role in the acute URTI caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae by reducing the level of related inflammatory factors and regulating the PI3K-Akt signaling pathway to alleviate the inflammatory reaction in mice.