• Detection of herb-symptom associations from traditional chinese medicine clinical data

      Li, Y.B.; Zhou, X.Z.; Zhang, R.S.; Wang, Y.H.; Peng, Yonghong; Hu, J.Q.; Xie, Q.; Xue, Y.X.; Xu, L.L.; Liu, X.F.; et al. (2015)
      Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an individualized medicine by observing the symptoms and signs (symptoms in brief) of patients. We aim to extract the meaningful herb-symptom relationships from large scale TCM clinical data. To investigate the correlations between symptoms and herbs held for patients, we use four clinical data sets collected from TCM outpatient clinical settings and calculate the similarities between patient pairs in terms of the herb constituents of their prescriptions and their manifesting symptoms by cosine measure. To address the large-scale multiple testing problems for the detection of herb-symptom associations and the dependence between herbs involving similar efficacies, we propose a network-based correlation analysis (NetCorrA) method to detect the herb-symptom associations. The results show that there are strong positive correlations between symptom similarity and herb similarity, which indicates that herb-symptom correspondence is a clinical principle adhered to by most TCM physicians. Furthermore, the NetCorrA method obtains meaningful herb-symptom associations and performs better than the chi-square correlation method by filtering the false positive associations. Symptoms play significant roles for the prescriptions of herb treatment. The herb-symptom correspondence principle indicates that clinical phenotypic targets (i.e., symptoms) of herbs exist and would be valuable for further investigations.