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Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011. pii: 290489. doi: 10.1155/2011/290489. Epub 2010 Sep 14.

Electroacupuncture inhibits inflammation reaction by upregulating vasoactive intestinal Peptide in rats with adjuvant-induced arthritis.

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  • 1Institute of Acupuncture-Moxibustion and Meridian, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200030, China.


Acupuncture is emerging as an alternative therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, the molecular mechanism underlying this beneficial effect of acupuncture has not been fully understood. Here, we demonstrated that electroacupuncture at acupoints Zusanli (ST36), Xuanzhong (GB39); and Shenshu (BL23) markedly decreased the paw swelling and the histologic scores of inflammation in the synovial tissue, and reduced the body weight loss in an adjuvant-induced arthritis rat model. However, the electrical stimulation at nonacupoint did not produce any beneficial effects against the experimental arthritis. Most interestingly, the electroacupuncture treatment resulted in an enhanced immunostaining for vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), a potent anti-inflammatory neuropeptide, in the synovial tissue. Moreover, the VIP-immunostaining intensity was significantly negatively correlated with the scores of inflammation in the synovial tissue (r = -0.483, P = .0026). In conclusion, these findings suggest that electroacupuncture may offer therapeutic benefits for the treatment of RA, at least partially through the induction of VIP expression.

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