San-Cao Granule (SCG) has been used in patients with liver fibrosis for many years and has shown good effect. However, its mechanism of therapeutic action is not clear because of its complex chemical system. The purpose of our study is to establish a comprehensive and systemic method that can predict the mechanism of action of SCG in antihepatic fibrosis.
In this study, a “compound–target–disease” network was constructed by combining the SCG-specific and liver fibrosis–specific target proteins with protein–protein interactions, and network pharmacology was used to screen out the underlying targets and mechanisms of SCG for treatment of liver fibrosis. Then, some key molecules of the enriched pathway were chosen to verify the effects of SCG on liver fibrosis induced by thioacetamide (TAA).
This systematic approach had successfully revealed that 16 targets related to 11 SCG compounds were closely associated with liver fibrosis therapy. The pathway-enrichment analysis of them showed that the TGF-β1/Smad signaling pathway is relatively important. Animal experiments also proved that SCG could significantly ameliorate liver fibrosis by inhibiting the TGF-β1/Smad pathway.