Background: Compound Kushen Injection (CKI) is used clinically for relieving cancer pain and
treating various solid tumors, particularly lung cancer. However, the underlying mechanisms of CKI in lung
cancer remain to be further elucidated.
Objective: This study aimed to obtain evidence regarding the potential efficacy of the active compounds and
therapeutic targets of CKI at a molecular level by using Network Pharmacology (NP), which is an emerging
technique for dealing with complex systems, such as those of herbal medicine.
Methods: The chemical and predicted target information of CKI was obtained from databases and computational
prediction, respectively; lung-cancer drugs and their corresponding targets were retrieved from Drugbank
and Drugcentral. The online tool, STRING, was used to gather target–pathway interactions for establishing a
target–(pathway)–target network to identify the target group that was most relevant to cancer. Based on this module,
a protein-protein interaction network was established for identifying the potential therapeutic targets and
the potential active ingredients.
Results: CKI might affect lung cancer drug targets or their neighbor nodes to trigger anti-cancer effects. The
compounds that were predicted to bind to the potential therapeutic targets were recommended as potential active
ingredients of CKI, which included naringenin from Baituling, and kurarinone and isoxanthohumol from
Conclusion: This NP-based study might provide insights into understanding CKI from the perspective of modern
science with reference to approved Western medicine for lung cancer. Moreover, network-based methods
could also be further used with distinct advantages in dealing with complex information and systems of