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J Neuroimmunol. 2005 Nov;168(1-2):144-53.

Electroacupuncture up-regulates natural killer cell activity Identification of genes altering their expressions in electroacupuncture induced up-regulation of natural killer cell activity.

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Department of East-West Medicine, Graduate School, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea.


As an important cellular component of the innate immune system, NK cells constitute a first line of defense against various infections and malignancies. Previous studies have reported electroacupuncture (EA) modulation of natural killer cell (NK cell) activities. Our study confirmed that EA treatment increases NK cell activity using (51)Cr release assay. Furthermore, in order to better understand the activation mechanism of NK cell by EA, we employed a cDNA microarray technique to elucidate how EA alters gene expressions in the spleen of rats. We screened EA responsive genes using a high-throughput screening and identified 154 genes. Among those genes we selected 4 genes that are known to play a crucial role in NK cell activation and examined their mRNA expressions after EA treatment using RT-PCR. Our data shows that EA treatment increased CD94, PTK and VCAM-1 expressions while decreased PTP and SHP-1. These results imply that EA treatment increase PTK expression, which increases NK cell activity, through induction of CD94 while decreases SHP-1, which inhibits NK cell activity, simultaneously so that it activates NK cell with high efficacy. It seems that increased VCAM-1 expression is due to INF-gamma produced by activated NK cell. Increased production of VCAM-1 is expected to play an important role in binding of NK cell to the target cell. The result of our study may provide key insights in understanding the mechanisms of activation of NK cell induced by EA.

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