Indexed on: 07 Feb '15Published on: 07 Feb '15Published in: PloS one
As a complex system, the complicated interactions between chemical ingredients, as well as the potential rules of interactive associations among chemical ingredients of traditional Chinese herbal formulae are not yet fully understood by modern science. On the other hand, network analysis is emerging as a powerful approach focusing on processing complex interactive data. By employing network approach in selected Chinese herbal formulae for the treatment of coronary heart disease (CHD), this article aims to construct and analyze chemical ingredients network of herbal formulae, and provide candidate herbs, chemical constituents, and ingredient groups for further investigation. As a result, chemical ingredients network composed of 1588 ingredients from 36 herbs used in 8 core formulae for the treatment of CHD was produced based on combination associations in herbal formulae. In this network, 9 communities with relative dense internal connections are significantly associated with 14 kinds of chemical structures with P<0.001. Moreover, chemical structural fingerprints of network communities were detected, while specific centralities of chemical ingredients indicating different levels of importance in the network were also measured. Finally, several distinct herbs, chemical ingredients, and ingredient groups with essential position in the network or high centrality value are recommended for further pharmacology study in the context of new drug development.