Transcriptomics in TCM

The transcriptome can be measured either by microarrays or next-generation sequencing. Many transcriptional profiles have been mined to search for target molecules of TCM extract treatments. These results were used to evaluate whether TCM extracts could be used as complementary drugs to treat specific symptoms or diseases. Here, G. lucidum-treated transcriptomes in immunomodulatory and anti-cancer therapy are described.

G. lucidum, a well-known herb, contains an abundance of polysaccharides with immunostimulatory properties.24 Transcriptional profiles of polysaccharides from G. lucidum-treated dendritic cells showed a decrease in the expression of some phagocytosis-related genes.25 F3 (a polysaccharide fraction extracted from lingzhi)-treated human leukemia THp-1 cells have been found to undergo apoptosis through death receptor pathways as determined through microarray analysis, and induces macrophage-like differentiation by caspase cleavage and p53 activation in THP-1 cells.21^2

Transcriptome data should be deposited at the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO), which is a public functional genomics data repository supporting MIAME (minimum information about a microarray experiment-compliant data submissions.26 GEO accepts array- and sequence-based data and provides tools to help users query and download experiments and curated gene expression profiles.26 For example, the array data from F3-treated human leukemia THp-1 cells have been deposited to the GEO database and the series record is GSE16014. The data can be download freely and used for further analysis.

Table 10.3 14 taxonomically diverse medicinal plant species in the Medicinal Plant Metabolomics Resource.


Common name

Description of drug uses'*

Atropa belladonna

Deadly nightshade; belladonna

One of the most poisonous plants known, with all parts of the plant containing toxic tropane alkaloids

Camptotheca acuminata

Xi Shu; happy tree

a Chinese tree that produces the pentacyclic quinolines camptothecin and 10-hydroxycamptothecin through the monoterpene indole alkaloid pathway

Cannabis sativa

Marijuana; hemp; pot

Has acquired considerable importance as a medicinal plant all over the world

Catharanthus roseus

Rosy periwinkle

used as a folk medicine, but was recognized by western physicians in the 1950s to produce compounds with anti-cancer activity

Digitalis purpurea

Common foxglove

used as a folk medicine, but was reported to contain a cardio-active compound in 1785

Dioscorea villosa

Wild yam

phyto-estrogenic properties for post-menopausal women

Echinacea pupurea

Eastern purple coneflower

used as a folk medicine, but recognized to produce compounds that stimulate the immune response

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo; maidenhair tree

used as a vasodilator to help improve cognitive function/Alzheimer's disease, reduction of cerebral ischemia during stroke, reduce varicose conditions, as a treatment for Raynaud's syndrome and as an aid to peripheral blood flow

Hoodia gordonii


used to suppress appetite and thirst; as a dietary supplement weight-loss product

Hypericum perforatum

st John's wort

Antiretroviral, anti-cancer, anti-depressive, anti-autoimmune

Panax quinquefolius

American ginseng

stimulant, stress reducer, enhances cognitive function and mental awareness

Rauvolfia serpentina

serpentwood; Indian snakeroot

E.g. The treatment of snake bites, fever and insanity

Rosmarinus officinalis


Rosemary leaves contains contain 20-30 different monoterpenes with antifungal and antimicrobial activity

Valeriana officinalis

Common valerian; garden heliotrope

Anxiolytic, sedative, central nervous system depressant and sleep aid


Descriptions have been extracted from the Medicinal Plant Metabolomics Resource website. Greater detail is available therein.

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