© 2018 Chen et al. Background. Alzheimer' disease (AD) is an ultimately fatal degenerative brain disorder that has an increasingly large burden on health and social care systems. There are only five drugs for AD on the market, and no new effective medicines have been discovered for many years. Chinese medicinal plants have been used to treat diseases for thousands of years, and screening herbal remedies is a way to develop new drugs. Methods. We used molecular docking to screen 30,438 compounds from Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) against a comprehensive list of AD target proteins. TCM compounds in the top 0.5% of binding affinity scores for each target protein were selected as our research objects. Structural similarities between existing drugs from DrugBank database and selected TCM compounds as well as the druggability of our candidate compounds were studied. Finally, we searched the CNKI database to obtain studies on anti-AD Chinese plants from 2007 to 2017, and only clinical studies were included. Results. A total of 1,476 compounds (top 0.5%) were selected as drug candidates. Most of these compounds are abundantly found in plants used for treating AD in China, especially the plants from two genera Panax and Morus. Weclassified the compounds by single target and multiple targets and analyzed the interactions between target proteins and compounds. Analysis of structural similarity revealed that 17 candidate anti-AD compounds were structurally identical to 14 existing approved drugs. Most of them have been reported to have a positive effect in AD. After filtering for compound druggability, we identified 11 anti-AD compounds with favorable properties, seven of which are found in anti-AD Chinese plants. Of 11 anti-AD compounds, four compounds 5,862, 5,863, 5,868, 5,869 have anti-inflammatory activity. The compound 28,814 mainly has immunoregulatory activity. The other six compounds have not yet been reported for any biology activity at present. Discussion. Natural compounds from TCM provide a broad prospect for the screening of anti-AD drugs. In this work, we established networks to systematically study the connections among natural compounds, approved drugs, TCM plants and AD target proteins with the goal of identifying promising drug candidates. We hope that our study will facilitate in-depth research for the treatment of AD in Chinese medicine.
Chen, B.-W., Li, W.-X., Wang, G.-H., Li, G.-H., Liu, J.-Q., Zheng, J.-J., … Huang, J.-F. (2018). A strategy to find novel candidate anti-Alzheimer’s disease drugs by constructing interaction networks between drug targets and natural compounds in medical plants. PeerJ, 6, e4756. https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.4756