Multi-target mechanism of misoprostol in pregnancy termination based on network pharmacology and molecular docking

Rui Zhang, Jing Cao, Lanlan Li, Yurong Zhu, Wei Dai, Tao Yang, Yaguang Hu


Misoprostol is a prostaglandin analogue that contracts the uterus, prompting the expulsion of the embryo. No systematic evaluation of the mechanisms of misoprostol has previously been performed. In this study, known targets of misoprostol were obtained from the DrugBank database; potential targets of misoprostol were predicted using data from the SwissTargetPrediction and PharmMapper databases; and the main targets of pregnancy termination were obtained from the GeneCards database. The protein– protein interaction (PPI) network of the shared genes between misoprostol and pregnancy termination was constructed using data from the STRING database, and the “misoprostol–pregnancy termination–pathway” network was constructed and potential targets was verified through molecular docking. We analyzed 37 shared target genes and obtained a network diagram of 134 potential targets, which the core therapeutic targets were HSP90AA1, EGFR, and MAPK1. GO functional and KEGG pathway enrichment analyses showed that misoprostol can modulate the VEGF signaling pathway, calcium signaling pathway, and NF-κB signaling pathway in pregnancy termination and mainly interferes with protein phosphorylation, cell localization, and protein hydrolysis regulation processes. This research illustrates the mechanism underlying the pharmacological effect of misoprostol, namely pregnancy termination. However, further experimental verification is warranted for optimal use of misoprostol during clinical practice. (Afr J Reprod Health 2024; 28 [3]: 114-121)

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