This study aimed to reveal Danggui Buxue Decoction (DBD) candidate targets and mechanisms in the treatment of metastatic colon cancer (MCC), using network pharmacology-based analyses and experimental validation.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Systems Pharmacology (TCMSP) database query and text mining were used to screen active compounds in DBD, and the Swiss target prediction platform was applied to predict compound-related target proteins. Targets likely associated with MCC were determined using GeneCards and OMIM databases. Targets common to DBD and MCC were obtained from the Venn platform; subsequently, Cytoscape was used to construct drug-compound-target-disease and protein-protein interaction networks. The hub gene was determined by R, while GO and KEGG enrichment analyses were performed on common targets to elucidate biological processes and signaling pathways involved in DBD against MCC. Finally, the metastatic colon cancer mouse model was used to detect the levels of expression of protein Bax, Bcl2, Caspase3, and Cleaved caspase3 by Western blot.
A total of 28 active compounds and 61 common targets were predicted. The main compounds were quercetin, hederagenin, jaranol, methylnissolin, formononetin, calycosin, kaempferol, 3.9-di-O-methylnissolin, 24-propylcholesterol, and 7-O-methylisomucronulatol, present in Astragalus membranaceus (Huangqi, HQ). In addition, beta-sitosterol, ferulic acid, and stigmasterol, present in Angelica sinensis (Danggui, DG), were detected. JUN, PTSG2, EGFR, ESR1and, CASP3 genes were the top 5 hub genes in the PPI network. GO and KEGG enrichment analyses indicated that apoptosis played a major role in the biological processes and signaling pathways involved. Moreover, the in vivo experiment revealed that DBD inhibited MCC by up-regulating the expression of Bax, Caspase3, and Cleaved caspase3, and by down-regulating the expression of Bcl2.