Objective: To discuss the possible underlying mechanism of the effect of Pien Tze Huang capsules (PTHCs) against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) using network pharmacology research methods.
Methods: Through the Traditional Chinese Medicine Systems Pharmacology Database and Analysis Platform (TCMSP), in this study, we searched for the active ingredients of PTHC, including Sanqi (Panax notoginseng), Shedan (snake’s bile), Niu-huang (Calculus Bovis or ox bezoars), and musk, as well as information on the corresponding targets. The GeneCards database was used to obtain relevant information on COVID-19 targets. The search tool for the retrieval of interacting genes/proteins (STRING) database was used to draw the protein–protein interaction network, and the R Programming Language was used to carry out gene ontology functional enrichment analysis and the Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes pathway enrichment analysis.
Results: In PTHC, there were 12 compounds that met the conditions and 232 gene targets. Along with the 394 gene targets associated with COVID-19, there were 41 potential targets related to the PTHC ingredients against COVID-19. The key targets included RELA, interleukin (IL)-6, IL-1β, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) 1, and C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 8, whereas the potential signaling pathways were nuclear factor-κB, cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction, the hypoxia-inducible factor 1 signaling pathway, the chemokine signaling pathway, and the MAPK signaling pathway.
Conclusion: PTHCs have the potential to combat COVID-19 by modulating key targets and potential signaling pathways that regulate immune function, providing theoretical support for more TCM treatments against COVID-19.