The Chinese herbal formula Xun Bai Cheng Qi Tang increases recovery from the flu

Ethnopharmacological relevance: Xuan Bai Cheng Qi Tang is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) compound used in the treatment of pulmonary infection in China. Despite the popular usage of Xuan Bai Cheng Qi Tang, its underlying protective roles and the associated molecular mechanisms with the gut-lung axis in influenza remain unclear.

Aim of the study: We aimed to explore the protective effects and the underlying mechanism of Xuan Bai Cheng Qi Tang efficacy on lung and intestine injuries induced by influenza A virus as well as to identify the main active components through integrated network pharmacology, intestinal flora analysis and pathway validation.

Materials and methods: The potential active components and therapeutic targets of Xuan Bai Cheng Qi Tang in the treatment of influenza were hypothesized through a series of network pharmacological strategies, including components screening, targets prediction and bioinformatics analysis. Inflammatory cytokines and pathway proteins were assayed to validate the results of network pharmacology. Then the mechanism of Xuan Bai Cheng Qi Tang alleviating lung and intestine injuries was further explored via intestinal flora analysis. The important role of Da Huang (Rhubarb) in the formula was verified by removing Da Huang (Rhubarb).

Results: Xuan Bai Cheng Qi Tang could significantly improve the survival rate in IAV-infected mice. The network pharmacology results demonstrated that JUN, mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), and tumor necrosis factor (TNF) are the key targets of Xuan Bai Cheng Qi Tang that can be useful in influenza treatment as it contains the core components luteolin, emodin, and aloe-emodin, which are related to the pathways of TNF, T-cell receptor (TCR), and NF-κB.

Verification experiments demonstrated that Xuan Bai Cheng Qi Tang could significantly alleviate the immune injury of the lungs and the gut of the mice, which is attributable to the inhibition of the release of inflammatory cytokines (such as TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-1β), the downregulation of the protein expression levels of Toll-like receptors-7 (TLR7), MyD88, and p-NF-κB65, and the reduction in the relative abundance of Enterobacteriaceae and Proteus, while an increase in that of Firmicutes and Lachnospiraceae. The overall protective role of Xuan Bai Cheng Qi Tang contributing to the treatment of the lungs and the gut was impaired when Da Huang (Rhubarb) was removed from Xuan Bai Cheng Qi Tang.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the efficacy of Xuan Bai Cheng Qi Tang is related to the inhibition of the immune injury and remodeling of the intestinal flora, wherein Da Huang (Rhubarb) plays an important role, which cumulatively provide the evidence applicable for the treatment of viral pneumonia induced by a different respiratory virus with Xuan Bai Cheng Qi Tang.


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About Attilio

Doctor of Chinese medicine, acupuncture expert and author of My Fertility Guide and My Pregnancy Guide.

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