A bioinformatics and network pharmacology approach to the mechanisms of action of Shenxiao decoction for the treatment of diabetic nephropathy.

Research paper by Xin X Mou, Di Yi DY Zhou, Danyang D Zhou, Kaiyuan K Liu, Li Jun LJ Chen, Wen Hong WH Liu

Indexed on: 23 Mar '20Published on: 23 Mar '20Published in: Phytomedicine


The epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of renal tubular epithelial cells is the main pathological alteration in diabetic nephropathy (DN). Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been used for the treatment of DN in clinical practice and has been proven to be effective. This aim of this study was to shed light on the efficacy of Shenxiao decoction (SXD) on the EMT of renal tubular epithelial cells and the molecular mechanisms of SXD in mice with DN, as well as on the high glucose (HG)- and TGF-β1-induced EMT of NRK-52E and HK-2 cells. A bioinformatics and network pharmacology method were utilized to construct the active ingredient-target networks of SXD that were responsible for the beneficial effects against DN. The effects of RUNX3 were validated in HG- and TGF-β1-induced EMT processes in NRK-52E and HK-2 cells. Bioinformatics analysis revealed that 122 matching targets were closely associated with the regulation of cell migration and the AGE-RAGE signaling pathway in diabetic complications. The results also revealed that, relative to the mice with DN, the mice in the treatment group had an improved general state and reduced blood glucose levels. The degradation of renal function was ameliorated by SXD. Moreover, the protective effects of SXD were also observed on renal structural changes. Furthermore, SXD suppressed the activation of the transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1/Smad pathway and upregulated the RUNX3 and E-cadherin levels and downregulated the extracellular matrix (ECM) protein levels in mice with DN. SXD was further found to prevent the HG- and TGF-β1-induced EMT processes in NRK-52E and HK-2 cells. Additionally, the overexpression of RUNX3 markedly inhibited the EMT and TGF-β1/Smad pathway induced by HG and TGF-β1 in NRK-52E and HK-2 cells. Taken together, these results suggest that SXD maybe alleviate EMT in DN via the inhibition of the TGF-β1/Smad/RUNX3 signaling pathway under hyperglycemic conditions. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.