Research Papers:

Network pharmacology-based and clinically relevant prediction of the active ingredients and potential targets of Chinese herbs in metastatic breast cancer patients

Yu Mao _, Jian Hao, Zi-qi Jin, Yang-yang Niu, Xue Yang, Dan Liu, Rui Cao and Xiong-zhi Wu

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:27007-27021. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15351

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Yu Mao1,*, Jian Hao1,*, Zi-Qi Jin2, Yang-Yang Niu3, Xue Yang1, Dan Liu1, Rui Cao4, Xiong-Zhi Wu4

1Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, National Clinical Research Center for Cancer, Key Laboratory of Cancer Prevention and Therapy, Tianjin, 300060, China

2Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, 300070, China

3Tianjin Children’s Hospital, Tianjin, 300134, China

4Zhong-Shan-Men Inpatient Department, Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, Tianjin, 300060, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this study and share first authorship

Correspondence to:

Xiong-Zhi Wu, email: [email protected]

Keywords: metastatic breast cancer, Chinese herbal medicine, network pharmacology, estrogen receptor, HSP90

Received: October 25, 2016     Accepted: January 22, 2017     Published: February 15, 2017


Chinese Herbal Medicine (CHM) plays a significant role in breast cancer treatment. We conduct the study to ascertain the relative molecular targets of effective Chinese herbs in treating stage IV breast cancer.

Survival benefit of CHM was verified by Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression analysis. A bivariate correlation analysis was used to find and establish the effect of herbs in complex CHM formulas. A network pharmacological approach was adopted to explore the potential mechanisms of CHM.

Patients in the CHM group had a median survival time of 55 months, which was longer than the 23 months of patients in the non-CHM group. Cox regression analysis indicated that CHM was an independent protective factor. Correlation analysis showed that 10 herbs were strongly correlated with favorable survival outcomes (P<0.01). Bioinformatics analyses suggested that the 10 herbs might achieve anti-breast cancer activity primarily through inhibiting HSP90, ERα and TOP-II related pathways.

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