An integrated network pharmacology and RNA-Seq approach for exploring the preventive effect of Lonicerae japonicae flos on LPS-induced acute lung injury.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2020 Sep 9 ;264:113364. Epub 2020 Sep 9. PMID: 32916233
ETHNOPHARMACOLOGICAL RELEVANCE: Lonicerae japonicae flos (LJF, the dried flower bud or newly bloomed flower of Lonicera japonica Thunb.), a typical herbal medicine, targets the lung, heart and stomach meridian with the function of clearing heat and detoxication. It ameliorated inflammatory responses and protected against acute lung inflammation in animal models. Acute lung injury (ALI) is a kind of inflammatory disease in which alveolar cells are damaged. However, a network pharmacology study to thoroughly investigate the mechanisms preventing ALI has not been performed.
AIM OF THE STUDY: In this study, we examined the main active ingredients in LJF and the protective effects of LJF on LPS-induced ALI in rats.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: First, the main active ingredients of LJF were screened in the TCMSP database, and the ALI-associated targets were collected from the GeneCards database. Then, we used compound-target and target-pathway networks to uncover the preventive mechanisms of LJF. Furthermore, we assessed the preventive effects of LJF in an LPS-induced rat model with the RNA-Seq technique to validate the possible molecular mechanisms of the effects of LJF in the treatment of ALI.
RESULTS: The network pharmacology results identified 28 main active compounds in LJF, and eight chemical components highly related to the potential targets, which were potential active compounds in LJF. In all, 94 potential targets were recognized, including IL6, TNF, PTGS2, APP, F2, and GRM5. The pathways revealed that the possible targets of LJF involved in the regulation of the IL-17 signalling pathway. Then, in vivo experiments indicated that LJF decreased the levels of proinflammatory cytokines (TNF-, IL-1, and IL-6) in serum and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid, decreased the levels of oxidative stress factors (MDA and MPO) and increased the activities of SOD and GSH-Px in lung tissue. The RNA-Seq results revealed that 7811, 775 and 3654 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) in Ctrl (control group), ALI-LJF (Lonicerae japonicae flos group) and ALI-DXSM (dexamethasone group), respectively. KEGG pathway analysis showed that the DEGs associated with immune response and inflammation signalling pathways and the IL-17 signalling pathway were significantly enriched in LJF. Compared with those in ALI, the expression of CXCL2, CXCL1, CXCL6, NFKBIA, IFNG, IL6, IL17A, IL17F, IL17C, MMP9 and TNFAIP3, which are involved in the IL-17 signalling pathway, were significantly decreased in the LJF group according to the qRT-PCR analyses.
CONCLUSIONS: In view of the network pharmacology and RNA-Seq results, the study identified the main active ingredient and potential targets of LJF involved in protecting against ALI, which suggests directions for further research on LJF.