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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 731370, 14 pages
Research Article

A Module Analysis Approach to Investigate Molecular Mechanism of TCM Formula: A Trial on Shu-feng-jie-du Formula

1Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China
2Institute of Chinese Materia Medica, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing 100700, China
3Institute of Basic Research in Clinical Medicine, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Dongzhimen, Beijing 100700, China

Received 12 September 2013; Revised 8 October 2013; Accepted 11 October 2013

Academic Editor: Aiping Lv

Copyright © 2013 Jianglong Song 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.


At the molecular level, it is acknowledged that a TCM formula is often a complex system, which challenges researchers to fully understand its underlying pharmacological action. However, module detection technique developed from complex network provides new insight into systematic investigation of the mode of action of a TCM formula from the molecule perspective. We here proposed a computational approach integrating the module detection technique into a 2-class heterogeneous network (2-HN) which models the complex pharmacological system of a TCM formula. This approach takes three steps: construction of a 2-HN, identification of primary pharmacological units, and pathway analysis. We employed this approach to study Shu-feng-jie-du (SHU) formula, which aimed at discovering its molecular mechanism in defending against influenza infection. Actually, four primary pharmacological units were identified from the 2-HN for SHU formula and further analysis revealed numbers of biological pathways modulated by the four pharmacological units. 24 out of 40 enriched pathways that were ranked in top 10 corresponding to each of the four pharmacological units were found to be involved in the process of influenza infection. Therefore, this approach is capable of uncovering the mode of action underlying a TCM formula via module analysis.