Dangguiliuhuang decoction (DGLHD) has been demonstrated to be effective in treating inflammatory, hepatic steatosis, and insulin resistance. In the study, we tried to elucidate the pharmacological efficacy and mechanism of DGLHD against liver fibrosis and predicate potential active ingredients and targets via network analysis and experimental validation. In the formula, we totally discovered 76 potential active ingredients like baicalein, berberine, and wogonin, and 286 corresponding targets including PTGS (prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase) 2, PPAR (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors) -γ, and NF-κB (nuclear factor-κB). Pathway and functional enrichment analysis of these putative targets indicated that DGLHD obviously influenced NF-κB and PPAR signaling pathway. Consistently, DGLHD downregulated levels of ALT (alanine transaminase) and AST (aspartate transaminase), reduced production of proinflammatory cytokines-TNF (tumor necrosis factor) -α and IL (Interleukin) -1β in serum and liver from mice with hepatic fibrosis, and inhibited hepatic stellate cell (HSC)-T6 cells proliferation. DGLHD decreased TGF (transforming growth factor) -β1 and α-SMA (smooth muscle actin) expression as well, maintained MMP (matrix metalloprotein) 13-TIMP (tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases) 1 balance, leading to mitigated ECM (extracellular matrix) deposition in vivo and in vitro. Moreover, our experimental data confirmed that the alleviated inflammation and ECM accumulation were pertinent to NF-κB inhibition and PPAR-γ activation. Overall, our results suggest that DGLHD aims at multiply targets and impedes the progression of hepatic fibrosis by ameliorating abnormal inflammation and ECM deposition, thereby serving as a novel regimen for treating hepatic fibrosis in clinic.
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