Developing a Knowledge Graph for Pharmacokinetic Natural Product-Drug Interactions

Sanya B. Taneja, Tiffany J. Callahan, Mary F. Paine, Sandra L. Kane-Gill, Halil Kilicoglu, Marcin P. Joachimiak, Richard D. Boyce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Pharmacokinetic natural product-drug interactions (NPDIs) occur when botanical or other natural products are co-consumed with pharmaceutical drugs. With the growing use of natural products, the risk for potential NPDIs and consequent adverse events has increased. Understanding mechanisms of NPDIs is key to preventing or minimizing adverse events. Although biomedical knowledge graphs (KGs) have been widely used for drug-drug interaction applications, computational investigation of NPDIs is novel. We constructed NP-KG as a first step toward computational discovery of plausible mechanistic explanations for pharmacokinetic NPDIs that can be used to guide scientific research. Methods: We developed a large-scale, heterogeneous KG with biomedical ontologies, linked data, and full texts of the scientific literature. To construct the KG, biomedical ontologies and drug databases were integrated with the Phenotype Knowledge Translator framework. The semantic relation extraction systems, SemRep and Integrated Network and Dynamic Reasoning Assembler, were used to extract semantic predications (subject-relation-object triples) from full texts of the scientific literature related to the exemplar natural products green tea and kratom. A literature-based graph constructed from the predications was integrated into the ontology-grounded KG to create NP-KG. NP-KG was evaluated with case studies of pharmacokinetic green tea- and kratom-drug interactions through KG path searches and meta-path discovery to determine congruent and contradictory information in NP-KG compared to ground truth data. We also conducted an error analysis to identify knowledge gaps and incorrect predications in the KG. Results: The fully integrated NP-KG consisted of 745,512 nodes and 7,249,576 edges. Evaluation of NP-KG resulted in congruent (38.98% for green tea, 50% for kratom), contradictory (15.25% for green tea, 21.43% for kratom), and both congruent and contradictory (15.25% for green tea, 21.43% for kratom) information compared to ground truth data. Potential pharmacokinetic mechanisms for several purported NPDIs, including the green tea-raloxifene, green tea-nadolol, kratom-midazolam, kratom-quetiapine, and kratom-venlafaxine interactions were congruent with the published literature. Conclusion: NP-KG is the first KG to integrate biomedical ontologies with full texts of the scientific literature focused on natural products. We demonstrate the application of NP-KG to identify known pharmacokinetic interactions between natural products and pharmaceutical drugs mediated by drug metabolizing enzymes and transporters. Future work will incorporate context, contradiction analysis, and embedding-based methods to enrich NP-KG. NP-KG is publicly available at The code for relation extraction, KG construction, and hypothesis generation is available at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number104341
JournalJournal of Biomedical Informatics
StatePublished - Apr 2023


  • Biomedical ontology
  • Interactions
  • Knowledge graph
  • Knowledge representation
  • Literature-based discovery
  • Natural products
  • Pharmacokinetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications


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