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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 451319, 9 pages
Research Article

Herb Network Analysis for a Famous TCM Doctor's Prescriptions on Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis

1Yijishan Hospital, Wannan Medical College, Wuhu 241001, China
2MOE Key Lab of Bioinformatics, Bioinformatics Division, TNLIST, Department of Automation, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China

Received 28 October 2014; Revised 20 January 2015; Accepted 20 January 2015

Academic Editor: Jairo K. Bastos

Copyright © 2015 Yan Li 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) doctors always prescribe various herbal formulae tailored to individual patients. However, there is still a lack of appropriate methods to study the rule and potential biological basis underlying the numerous prescriptions. Here we developed an Herb-Compound-Target-Disease coherent network approach to analyze 871 herbal prescriptions from a TCM master, Mr. Ji-Ren Li, in his clinical practice on treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The core herb networks were extracted from Mr. Li’s prescriptions. Then, we predicted target profiles of compounds in core herb networks and calculated potential synergistic activities among them. We further found that the target sets of core herbs overlapped significantly with the RA related biological processes and pathways. Moreover, we detected a possible connection between the prescribed herbs with different properties such as Cold and Hot and the Western drugs with different actions such as immunomodulatory and hormone regulation on treatment of RA. In summary, we explored a new application of TCM network pharmacology on the analysis of TCM prescriptions and detected the networked core herbs, their potential synergistic and biological activities, and possible connections with drugs. This work offers a novel way to understand TCM prescriptions in clinical practice.