Over the past decade, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has widely embraced systems biology and its various data integration approaches to promote its modernization. Thus, integrative pharmacology-based traditional Chinese medicine (TCMIP) was proposed as a paradigm shift in TCM. This review focuses on the presentation of this novel concept and the main research contents, methodologies and applications of TCMIP. First, TCMIP is an interdisciplinary science that can establish qualitative and quantitative pharmacokinetics–pharmacodynamics (PK–PD) correlations through the integration of knowledge from multiple disciplines and techniques and from different PK–PD processes in vivo. Then, the main research contents of TCMIP are introduced as follows: chemical and ADME/PK profiles of TCM formulas; confirming the three forms of active substances and the three action modes; establishing the qualitative PK–PD correlation; and building the quantitative PK–PD correlations, etc. After that, we summarize the existing data resources, computational models and experimental methods of TCMIP and highlight the urgent establishment of mathematical modeling and experimental methods. Finally, we further discuss the applications of TCMIP for the improvement of TCM quality control, clarification of the molecular mechanisms underlying the actions of TCMs and discovery of potential new drugs, especially TCM-related combination drug discovery.
By Haiyu Xu, Yanqiong Zhang, Ping Wang, Junhong Zhang, Hong Chen, Luoqi Zhang, Xia Du, Chunhui Zhao, Dan Wu, Feng Liu, Hongjun Yang and Changxiao Liu