Potential Therapeutic Targets Identified for DGKS Pill for Acne Vulgaris

Researchers conducted a network pharmacology-based analysis of the potential anti-acne compounds, core therapeutic targets, and the main pathways involved in DGKS pill bioactivity.

Researchers have identified potential pathways and therapeutic targets of the Danggui Kushen (DGKS) pill, a traditional Chinese medicine used in treating patients with acne vulgaris, according to study results published in Dermatologic Therapy.

The investigators conducted a network pharmacology-based analysis of the potential anti-acne compounds, core therapeutic targets, and main pathways involved in the bioactivity of the DGKS pill, which has shown superior efficacy in treating patients with acne vulgaris. The DGKS pill is composed of 2 traditional Chinese herbs: Angelica and Sophora.

The study authors obtained the matching results of the predicted targets of the DGKS pill and the well-known targets of acne vulgaris, followed by network establishment using protein-protein interaction data. They used Cytoscape to analyze the network and screen the core targets and the Database for Annotation, Visualization, and Integrated Discovery and ClueGO for the enrichment analysis of the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomics pathways and Gene Ontology biological processes. The research group then constructed the compound-target pathway network.

The researchers identified 19 active compounds, 46 therapeutic targets, and 12 core therapeutic targets of the DGKS pill. The biologic processes were mainly related to the reactive oxygen species metabolic process, gland morphogenesis, and female gonad development.

“The DGKS pill was significantly associated with eight pathways including the PI3K-Akt, TNF, NF-kappa B, and p53 signaling pathways,” stated the investigators. “[The] DGKS pill might have a synergistic effect on the inhibition of excessive sebaceous lipogenesis and sebocyte differentiation, and likewise, anti-inflammatory effects via the different signaling pathways (PI3K-Akt, TNF, NF-kappa B, and p53).”

The DGKS pill is a “more natural and generally safer therapeutic option for acne vulgaris,” according to the study authors.  The DGKS pill primarily centers on stability of the entire body through regulation of the communications of all factors within the organism to treat acne vulgaris.

“Our study revealed the possible therapeutic targets and pathways of the DGKS pill on acne vulgaris, which has not been previously reported,” the researchers concluded. “Summarily, the present outcomes demonstrate the vital pharmacological mechanisms of the DGKS pill against acne vulgaris and shed novel light on the drug exploitation strategy of acne vulgaris. However, further experimental validation is essential to verify the effect of the DGKS pill on acne vulgaris.”


Yu B, Diao NN, Zhang Y, et al. Network pharmacology-based identification for therapeutic mechanisms of Dangguikushen pill in acne vulgaris [published online July 24, 2020]. Dermatol Ther. doi: 10.1111/dth.14061