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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2023, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (6): 593-604.doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2023.09.001

• Original Experimental Research • Previous Articles    

Herbal combinations against COVID-19: A network pharmacology, molecular docking and dynamics study

Jian-bo Song a, Li-qin Zhao b, Hong-ping Wen a, Yuan-ping Li   

  1. a Department of Pharmacy, the Fifth Affiliated Hospital of Shanxi Medical University (Shanxi Provincial People’s Hospital), Taiyuan 030012, Shanxi Province, China
    b Department of Infectious Disease, the First Affiliated Hospital of Shanxi Medical University, Taiyuan 030012, Shanxi Province, China
  • Received:2022-07-05 Accepted:2023-05-13 Online:2023-12-08 Published:2023-09-26
  • Contact: Yuan-ping Li

The aim of this study is to identify molecules from traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) with potential activity against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and its variants.

We applied the Apriori algorithm to identify important combinations of herbs in the TCM prescriptions for the treatment of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Then, we explored the active components and core targets using network pharmacology. In addition, the molecular docking approach was performed to investigate the interaction of these components with the main structural and non-structural proteins, as well as the mutants. Furthermore, their stability in the binding pockets was further evaluated with the molecular dynamics approach.

A combination of Amygdalus Communis Vas., Ephedra Herba and Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi was selected as the important herbal combination, and 11 main components and 20 core targets against COVID-19 were obtained. These components, including luteolin, naringenin, stigmasterol, baicalein, and so on, were the potentially active compounds against COVID-19. The binding affinity of these compounds with the potential targets was as high as the positive controls. Among them, baicalein could interfere with multiple targets simultaneously, and it also interfered with the interaction between spike protein and angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 receptor. Additionally, almost all the systems reached stability during dynamics simulation.

The combination of Amygdalus Communis Vas., Ephedra Herba and Scutellaria baicalensis Georgi was the most important herbal combination for the treatment of COVID-19. Baicalein may be a potential candidate against SARS-CoV-2 and its variants.

Key words: Herbal medicine, Molecular docking, Baicalein, Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, Coronavirus disease 2019

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