Aim and Objective: Maxingyigan (MXYG) decoction is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) prescription. However, how MXYG acts against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is not known. We investigated the active ingredients and the therapeutic targets of MXYG decoction against COVID-19.
Methods: A network pharmacology strategy involving drug-likeness evaluation, prediction of oral bioavailability, network analyses, and virtual molecular docking was used to predict the mechanism of action of MXYG against COVID-19.
Results: Thirty-three core COVID-19-related targets were identified from 1023 gene targets through analyses of protein–protein interactions. Eighty-six active ingredients of MXYG decoction hit by 19 therapeutic targets were screened out by analyses of a compound–compound target network. Via network topology, three “hub” gene targets (interleukin (IL-6), caspase-3, IL-4) and three key components (quercetin, formononetin, luteolin) were recognized and verified by molecular docking. Compared with control compounds (ribavirin, arbidol), the docking score of quercetin to the IL-6 receptor was highest, with a score of 5. Furthermore, the scores of three key components to SARS-CoV-2 are large as 4, 5, and 5, respectively, which are even better than those of ribavirin at 3. Bioinformatics analyses revealed that MXYG could prevent and treat COVID-19 through anti-inflammatory and immunity-based actions involving activation of T cells, lymphocytes, and leukocytes, as well as cytokine–cytokine-receptor interaction, and chemokine signaling pathways.
Conclusion: The hub genes of COVID-19 helped to reveal the underlying pathogenesis and therapeutic targets of COVID-19. This study represents the first report on the molecular mechanism of MXYG decoction against COVID-19.
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