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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 595924, 15 pages
Research Article

A Network-Based Systematic Study for the Mechanism of the Treatment of Zhengs Related to Cough Variant Asthma

1Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China
2Institute of Chinese Materia Medica, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing 100700, China
3China-Japan Friendship Hospital, Beijing 100029, China

Received 8 July 2013; Revised 10 September 2013; Accepted 12 September 2013

Academic Editor: Shao Li

Copyright © 2013 Di Chen 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.


Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has shown significant efficacy in the treatment of cough variant asthma (CVA), a special type of asthma. However, there is shortage of explanations for relevant mechanism of treatment. As Zhengs differentiation is a critical concept in TCM, it is necessary to explain the mechanism of treatment of Zhengs. Based on TCM clinical cases, this study illustrated the mechanism of the treatment of three remarkably relevant Zhengs for CVA: “FengXieFanFei,” “FeiQiShiXuan”, and “QiDaoLuanJi.” To achieve this goal, five steps were carried out: (1) determining feature Zhengs and corresponding key herbs of CVA by analyses of clinical cases; (2) finding out potential targets of the key herbs and clustering them based on their functional annotations; (3) constructing an ingredient-herb network and an ingredient network; (4) identifying modules of the ingredient network; (5) illustrating the mechanism of the treatment by further mining the latent biological implications within each module. The systematic study reveals that the treatment of “FengXieFanFei,” “FeiQiShiXuan,” and “QiDaoLuanJi” has effects on the regulation of multiple bioprocesses by herbs containing different ingredients with functions of steroid metabolism regulation, airway inflammation, and ion conduction and transportation. This network-based systematic study will be a good way to boost the scientific understanding of mechanism of the treatment of Zhengs.