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Acta Diabetol. 2014 Dec;51(6):963-72. doi: 10.1007/s00592-014-0645-4. Epub 2014 Sep 14.

Enhanced insulin sensitivity and acute regulation of metabolic genes and signaling pathways after a single electrical or manual acupuncture session in female insulin-resistant rats.

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Department of Physiology, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Box 434, 405 30, Göteborg, Sweden.



To compare the effect of a single session of acupuncture with either low-frequency electrical or manual stimulation on insulin sensitivity and molecular pathways in the insulin-resistant dihydrotestosterone-induced rat polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) model. Both stimulations cause activation of afferent nerve fibers. In addition, electrical stimulation causes muscle contractions, enabling us to differentiate changes induced by activation of sensory afferents from contraction-induced changes.


Control and PCOS rats were divided into no-stimulation, manual-, and electrical stimulation groups and insulin sensitivity was measured by euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp. Manually stimulated needles were rotated 180° ten times every 5 min, or low-frequency electrical stimulation was applied to evoke muscle twitches for 45 min. Gene and protein expression were analyzed by real-time PCR and Western blot.


The glucose infusion rate (GIR) was lower in PCOS rats than in controls. Electrical stimulation was superior to manual stimulation during treatment but both methods increased GIR to the same extent in the post-stimulation period. Electrical stimulation decreased mRNA expression of Adipor2, Adrb1, Fndc5, Erk2, and Tfam in soleus muscle and increased ovarian Adrb2 and Pdf. Manual stimulation decreased ovarian mRNA expression of Erk2 and Sdnd. Electrical stimulation increased phosphorylated ERK levels in soleus muscle.


One acupuncture session with electrical stimulation improves insulin sensitivity and modulates skeletal muscle gene and protein expression more than manual stimulation. Although electrical stimulation is superior to manual in enhancing insulin sensitivity during stimulation, they are equally effective after stimulation indicating that it is activation of sensory afferents rather than muscle contraction per se leading to the observed changes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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