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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 548498, 12 pages
Research Article

A Systems Biology-Based Investigation into the Pharmacological Mechanisms of Wu Tou Tang Acting on Rheumatoid Arthritis by Integrating Network Analysis

Institute of Chinese Materia Medica, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, No. 16, Nanxiaojie, Dongzhimennei, Beijing 100700, China

Received 11 January 2013; Accepted 20 February 2013

Academic Editor: Aiping Lu

Copyright © 2013 Yanqiong Zhang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Aim. To investigate pharmacological mechanisms of Wu Tou Tang acting on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) by integrating network analysis at a system level. Methods and Results. Drug similarity search tool in Therapeutic Targets Database was used to screen 153 drugs with similar structures to compositive compounds of each ingredient in Wu Tou Tang and to identify 56 known targets of these similar drugs as predicted molecules which Wu Tou Tang affects. The recall, precision, accuracy, and F1-score, which were calculated to evaluate the performance of this method, were, respectively, 0.98, 0.61, 59.67%, and 0.76. Then, the predicted effector molecules of Wu Tou Tang were significantly enriched in neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction and calcium signaling pathway. Next, the importance of these predicted effector molecules was evaluated by analyzing their network topological features, such as degree, betweenness, and k-coreness. We further elucidated the biological significance of nine major candidate effector molecules of Wu Tou Tang for RA therapy and validated their associations with compositive compounds in Wu Tou Tang by the molecular docking simulation. Conclusion. Our data suggest the potential pharmacological mechanisms of Wu Tou Tang acting on RA by combining the strategies of systems biology and network pharmacology.