Study of TCM Medication Rules against Aging based on Network Pharmacology and Data Mining

Research Article

Austin J Pharmacol Ther. 2023; 11(1): 1167

Study of TCM Medication Rules against Aging based on Network Pharmacology and Data Mining

Bo Li1,2,4#,Wei Meng1#, Mengnan Liu1, Fei Wang3,Huairong Luo2,4, Li Wang1* and Li Dong1,2,3*

¹Affiliated Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital of Southwest Medical University, Luzhou, Sichuan Province, China

²Key Laboratory of Luzhou City for Aging Medicine, Southwest Medical University, Luzhou, Sichuan Province, China

³Chengdu University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China

4;Faculty of Chinese Medicine and State Key Laboratory of Quality Research in Chinese Medicine, Macau University of Science and Technology, Macau, China

#These authors have contributed equally to this article.

*Corresponding author: Li Wang & Li DongAffiliated Traditional Chinese Medicine Hospital of Southwest Medical University, Luzhou, Sichuan Province, China

Received: December 14, 2022; Accepted: January 18, 2023; Published: January 25, 2023


Background and Objective: Aging and age-related diseases have become a global concern. There may be a lot of room for the development of TRADITIONAL CHINESE MEDICINE (TCM) in the future. However, it has yet to fully form a system. Therefore, this study aims to explore the material basis and rules of TCM anti-aging based on network pharmacology and data mining.

Methods: In this study, potential targets were searched using the HAGR and Aging Atlas databases, followed by compounds and traditional Chinese herbs from the TCMSP database. On this basis, the target-compound network, compound-Chinese herb network and target-compound-herb network were constructed and visualized using Cytoscape 3.7.2. These networks were used to identify potential targets, compounds and herbs. Finally, the rules of Chinese herbs were summarized by the analysis of properties, flavors, and meridian tropism.

Results: A total of 25 potential targets, 210 candidate small compounds and 135 kinds of herbs were obtained. The top five targets included PTGS2, AR, ESR1, GSK3B and CCNA2, and diosgenin, formononetin, tanshinone IIA, phaseolin and phaseollidin were identified as the top 5 compounds. In addition, five core herbs (Huluba, Tiandong, Danshen, Kushen and Shandougen) were confirmed. Moreover, according to the frequency statistics, the Chinese herbs that interfere with aging were mainly bitter, acrid, and sweet, had both cold and warm properties, and belonged to the liver and lung meridians.

Conclusion: We explored the potential mechanisms of TCM anti-aging by using network pharmacology and summarized the general rules of traditional Chinese herbs medicine. TCM has great potential in the treatment of aging, and this study provides a new approach and idea for the clinical application of integrated Chinese and Western medicine in the treatment of aging.


The proportion of people aged 65 and over has been rising steadily in both developed and developing countries. There is no doubt that the prevalence of the older populations has led to a global burden of age-related disorders, posing a serious threat to human health and reducing the quality of life for elderly people. As a result, health care costs have become a huge burden for both society and aging populations, and it is essential to explore the mechanisms of aging and counter the occurrence of aging-related diseases.

Aging, unlike sickness, is a progressive time-dependent process that can be divided into pathological and physiological aging. It carries from person to person and can be a complex biological process characterized by a decline in tissue and organ function, structural degradation, and reduced adaptability and resistance, all of which is closely contributed to most chronic diseases and increased morbidity and mortality [1,2], such as diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and neurodegenerative disease. The search for effective strategies to improve normal lifespan has been an influential goal of aging research for many years. Until now, pharmacological interventions may have been an effective way to improve health span and delay the onset of age-related diseases, and numerous compounds with anti-aging activity have been found in yeast, worms, fruit flies and mice. While treatments for age-related diseases have been extensively studied and progress has been made, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is particularly well-suited for drug discovery for the long-term treatment of age-related diseases.

TCM is a treasure of natural compounds used in the treatment of a variety of diseases. It has a wide range of sources, a large number of effective compounds, stable compound structures and security. In addition, TCM has the combined advantages of multi-target and multi-effect for diseases with complex pathogenesis. Therefore, TCM has great significance in preventing and improving the clinical symptoms and severity of age-related diseases, such as Ginseng, Radix Astragali and Gynostemma pentaphyllum are recognized by the “nourishing of life” and their role as anti-aging psychotherapeutic is gaining attention increasingly [3].

Network pharmacology is a combination of systems pharmacology, multidirectional pharmacology, data mining and other multi-disciplines, which is used to analyze and predict the pharmacological mechanisms of drugs by constructing a “drug-target-disease” network, and it is suitable for the study of traditional Chinese medicine and compounds. Therefore, it is currently widely used in the mechanism study of the role of TCM and in the development of new drug compounds.

In this study, through the method of network pharmacology, aging-related targets were obtained as the breakthrough points and matched to the corresponding compounds in Chinese medicine, and further establish the “target-compound-herb” network, in order to analyze the relationship. In addition, we evaluated the mechanisms of action and general rules of TCM. Our findings provide a theoretical foundation for the follow-up exploration and provide ideas for clinical research on TCM, therapeutic strategies and the integration of TCM and Western medicine in aging management. A flow chart of this study is shown in (Figure 1).