Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
International Journal of Genomics
Volume 2018 (2018), Article ID 9468912, 2 pages

Genomics Approach of the Natural Product Pharmacology for High Impact Diseases

1Lifescience School, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing, China
2Institute of Liver Disease, Shuguang Hospital, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai, China
3Department of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, GA, USA
4Digestive Diseases and Nutrition Center, Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, Department of Pediatrics, the State University of New York at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, USA
5Department of Nutrition, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Lixin Zhu; ude.olaffub@uhznixil

Received 21 March 2018; Accepted 21 March 2018; Published 8 April 2018

Copyright © 2018 Yong Wang 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.

According to the World Health Organization, high-impact diseases (HID) including cardiovascular diseases, metabolic diseases, and a variety of types of cancer are the top challenge to the entire medical community globally [1]. Therapeutic strategies using bioactive compounds have been extensively investigated as natural products have become a rich source for drug discovery due to their structural diversities and a wide range of pharmacophores. However, despite considerable gains in the pharmacological research of natural products, their applications are still limited, partly because of the technical barriers to comprehensively understand their molecular targets and pharmacological mechanisms [2].

Recently, omics technologies including genomics, proteomics, transcriptome, and metabolomics have been developed and improved significantly. This is especially true for RNA sequencing together with the system-based pharmacology, which has overcome the barriers and greatly improved our understanding of the pharmacology of natural products for the prevention and treatments of HID.

For example, Shuanglong Formula (SLF) and Qishen granules (QSG) are well-studied natural products for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Multiomics including metabolomics and comparative proteomics were performed to investigate the SLF’s effects on the regulation of myocardial energy metabolism [3, 4]. Y. Wang et al. elucidated that QSG used in the treatment of heart failure concurrently attenuate inflammation and NO production through gene expression analysis with a novel strategy called keystone gene-based group significance analysis [5]. Moreover, by integrating the proteomic approach and bioinformatics methods, L.-X. Feng et al. demonstrated that salvianolic acid B (SB), one component in QSG, impacted the signal cascade from the epidermal growth factor receptor to heat shock protein 27 (HSP27) and mitochondria [6]. Similarly, using a combined approach of transcriptome and microbiome analyses, Q. Feng et al. found that Qushi Huayu Decoction simultaneously activated the hepatic antioxidative mechanism, suppressed the hepatic lipid synthesis, and amplified the regulatory T cell-inducing microbiota in the gut [7].

In addition, new omics approaches are also developed to identify the active indigents and potential targets of natural products. A novel approach for relative and absolute quantitation was established to specifically and comprehensively identify the protein targets of andrographolide (Andro) [8], and BATMAN-TCM, a bioinformatics tool of network pharmacology, has been available online for predicting the targets and pharmacologic pathways of natural products [9].

Due to the diverse components of natural products, systematically integrating the readouts of genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and metabolomics will dramatically facilitate our understanding of molecular mechanisms of natural product actions, as well as identifying biomarkers or targets for future research and clinical practice. Recently, an integrated proteomic and metabolomics research demonstrated that a combination of natural products comprising of Rheum palmatum L., Gardenia jasminoides Ellis, and Artemisia annua L., had an improved therapeutic effect on hepatic injury syndrome through regulating dynamic patterns in metabolic biomarkers and target proteins and activating both intrinsic and extrinsic pathways [10].

Unsurprisingly, more omics studies are currently under way to reveal the molecular mechanisms of treatments using natural products. The current issue is a collection of selected works that use the approaches of genomics, metabolomics, RNA sequencing, and network pharmacology to comprehensively elucidate the natural product pharmacology in the treatments of HID including heart failure, diabetes and its complications, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and depression. It is a timely update to our knowledge on both the molecular mechanism and novel drug discovery for HID.

Yong Wang
Qin Feng
Peijian He
Lixin Zhu
Guoxun Chen


  1. World Health Organization, Global Action Plan for the Prevention and Control of Noncommunicable Diseases 2013-2020, 2013, World Health Organization, Geneva, 2015.
  2. A. L. Harvey, R. Edrada-Ebel, and R. J. Quinn, “The re-emergence of natural products for drug discovery in the genomics era,” Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 111–129, 2015. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar
  3. X. Liang, X. Chen, Q. Liang et al., “Metabonomic study of Chinese medicine Shuanglong formula as an effective treatment for myocardial infarction in rats,” Journal of Proteome Research, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 790–799, 2011. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar
  4. X. Fan, X. Li, S. Lv, Y. Wang, Y. Zhao, and G. Luo, “Comparative proteomics research on rat MSCs differentiation induced by Shuanglong Formula,” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 131, no. 3, pp. 575–580, 2010. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar
  5. Y. Wang, W. Lin, C. Li et al., “Multipronged therapeutic effects of Chinese herbal medicine Qishenyiqi in the treatment of acute myocardial infarction,” Frontiers in Pharmacology, vol. 8, 2017. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar
  6. L.-X. Feng, C.-J. Jing, K.-L. Tang et al., “Clarifying the signal network of salvianolic acid B using proteomic assay and bioinformatic analysis,” Proteomics, vol. 11, no. 8, pp. 1473–1485, 2011. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar
  7. Q. Feng, W. Liu, S. S. Baker et al., “Multi-targeting therapeutic mechanisms of the Chinese herbal medicine QHD in the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,” Oncotarget, vol. 8, no. 17, pp. 27820–27838, 2017. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar
  8. J. Wang, X. F. Tan, V. S. Nguyen et al., “A quantitative chemical proteomics approach to profile the specific cellular targets of andrographolide, a promising anticancer agent that suppresses tumor metastasis,” Molecular & Cellular Proteomics, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 876–886, 2014. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar
  9. Z. Liu, F. Guo, Y. Wang et al., “BATMAN-TCM: a bioinformatics analysis tool for molecular mechanism of traditional Chinese medicine,” Scientific Reports, vol. 6, no. 1, article 21146, 2016. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar
  10. X. Wang, A. Zhang, P. Wang et al., “Metabolomics coupled with proteomics advancing drug discovery toward more agile development of targeted combination therapies,” Molecular and Cellular Proteomics, vol. 12, no. 5, pp. 1226–1238, 2013. View at Publisher · View at Google Scholar