The mechanisms underlying the therapeutic effect of Salvia miltiorrhiza (SM) on diabetic nephropathy (DN) were examined using a systematic network pharmacology approach and molecular docking. The Traditional Chinese Medicine Systems Pharmacology (TCMSP) database was used to screen active ingredients of SM. Targets were obtained using the SwissTargetPrediction and TCMSP databases. Proteins related to DN were retrieved from the GeneCards and DisGeNET databases. A protein–protein interaction (PPI) network was constructed using common SM/DN targets in the STRING database. The Metascape platform was used for GO function analysis, and the Cytoscape plug-in ClueGO was used for KEGG pathway enrichment analysis. Molecular docking was performed using iGEMDOCK and AutoDock Vina software. Pymol and LigPlos were used for network mapping. Sixty-six active ingredients and 189 targets of SM were found. Sixty-four targets overlapped with DN-related proteins. The PPI network revealed that AKT1, VEGFA, IL6, TNF, MAPK1, TP53, EGFR, STAT3, MAPK14, and JUN were the 10 most relevant targets. Go and KEGG analyses revealed that the common targets of DN and SM were mainly involved in advanced glycation end products, oxidative stress, inflammatory response, and immune regulation. Molecular docking revealed that potential DN-related targets, includingTNF, NOS2, and AKT1, more stably bound with salvianolic acid B than with tanshinone IIA. In conclusion, this study revealed the active components and potential molecular therapeutic mechanisms of SM in DN and provides a reference for the wide application of SM in clinically managing DN.

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