A metabolic mechanism analysis of Fuzheng-Huayu formula for improving liver cirrhosis with traditional Chinese medicine syndromes

Authors: Ya-nan SONG1, Jian CHEN1, Fei-fei CAI1, Yi-yu LU1, Qi-long CHEN1, Yong-yu ZHANG2, Ping LIU3, Shi-bing SU1
1 Research Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine Complexity System, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 201203, China
2 Research Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine and System Biology, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 201203, China
3 E-institutes of Traditional Chinese Internal Medicine, Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, Shanghai 201203, China
Corresponding to: Ping LIU:, Shi-bing SU:,
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2017.101
Received: 13 April 2017
Accepted: 30 June 2017
Advance online: 26 October 2017


Fuzheng-Huayu formula (FZHY), a Chinese herbal mixture prescription, has been proven effective in treating liver fibrosis and cirrhosis in both clinical trials and animal experiments. In this study we assessed the metabolic mechanisms of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) syndrome-based FZHY treatment in liver cirrhosis (LC). A total of 113 participants, including 50 healthy controls and 63 LC patients, were recruited. According to the diagnosis and differentiation of the TCM syndromes, the LC patients were classified into 5 TCM syndrome groups including the liver stagnation syndrome (LSS), spleen deficiency and damp overabundance syndrome (SDDOS), damp-heat accumulation syndrome (DHAS), liver-kidney Yin deficiency syndrome (LKYDS), and blood stagnation syndrome (BSS), and administered FZHY for 6 months. FZHY treatment significantly decreased serum levels of hyaluronic acid (HA), a biochemical marker for LC, as well as TCM syndrome scores (the TCM syndrome scores were decreased in all the groups with significant decreases in the LSS and LKYDS groups). Furthermore, FZHY treatment gradually shifted the metabolic profiles of LC patients from a pathologic state to a healthy state, especially in LC patients with LSS and LKYDS. Twenty-two differently altered metabolites (DAMs) were identified, including carbohydrates, amino acids, fatty acids, etc with 9 DAMs in LSS patients, 9 in LKYDS patients, and 4 in other patients. The metabolic pathways involved in the conversion of amino acids and the body’s detoxification process were regulated first, followed by the pathways involved in the body’s energy supply process. In conclusion, the evaluation of the effect of TCM syndrome-based FZHY treatment show that FZHY has a better effect on LKYDS and LSS than on the other TCM syndromes, and the metabolic mechanisms might be involved in the increased detoxification function in LKYDS and the improvement of energy supply in LSS, which provides important evidence for the clinical application of TCM syndrome-based treatment.
Keywords: liver cirrhosis; Fuzheng-Huayu formula; traditional Chinese medicine syndrome-based treatment; metabolomics