Brief Bioinform

. 2020 Nov 10;bbaa300.
doi: 10.1093/bib/bbaa300. Online ahead of print.
Network Pharmacology and bioinformatics analyses identify intersection genes of niacin and COVID-19 as potential therapeutic targets

Rong Li 1 , Yu Li 1 , Xiao Liang 1 , Lu Yang 1 , Min Su 1 , Keng Po Lai 1



Objectives: Patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) may be susceptible to the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19). However, anti-CRC/COVID-19 treatment options are currently unavailable. Since niacin is a vitamin with cytoprotective and anti-inflammatory functions, this study aimed to evaluate the possible functional roles and underlying mechanisms of action of niacin as an anti-COVID-19 and -CRC therapy.
Interventions: We used a series of network pharmacology-based and computational analyses to understand and characterize the binding capacity, biological functions, pharmacological targets and therapeutic mechanisms of niacin in CRC/COVID-19.
Measurements and main results: We revealed the clinical characteristics of CRC patients and COVID-19 patients, including predisposing genes, survival rate and prognosis. Moreover, the results of molecular docking analysis indicated that niacin exerted effective binding capacity in COVID-19. Further, we disclosed the targets, biological functions and signaling pathways of niacin in CRC/COVID-19. The analysis indicated that niacin could help in treating CRC/COVID-19 through cytoprotection, enhancement of immunologic functions, inhibition of inflammatory reactions and regulation of cellular microenvironment. Furthermore, five core pharmacological targets of niacin in CRC/COVID-19 were also identified, including BCL2L1, PTGS2, IL1B, IFNG and SERPINE1.
Conclusions: This study, for the first time, revealed the niacin-associated molecular functions and pharmacological targets for treating CRC/COVID-19, as COVID-19 remains a serious pandemic. But the findings were not validated in actual CRC patients infected with COVID-19, so further investigation is needed to confirm the potential use of niacin for treating CRC/COVID-19.

Keywords: COVID-19; colorectal neoplasms; computational biology; network pharmacology; niacin; prognosis.