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Technol Health Care. 2017;25(3):403-412. doi: 10.3233/THC-161275.

Cranial electrotherapy stimulation affects mood state but not levels of peripheral neurotrophic factors or hypothalamic- pituitary-adrenal axis regulation.

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Department of Physical Education, College of Arts and Physical Education, Dong-A University, Busan, Korea.
Sports and Health Care Major, College of Humanities and Arts, Korea National University of Transportation, Chungju-si, Korea.


Cranial electrotherapy stimulation (CES) is reported to aid in relieving symptoms of depression and anxiety, though the mechanism underlying this effect remains unclear. Therefore, the present study aimed to evaluate changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis response and levels of neurotrophic factors, as well as changes in mood state, in patients undergoing CES therapy. Fifty healthy postmenopausal women were randomly assigned to either a Sham CES group (n = 25) or an Active CES group (n = 25). CES treatment was conducted in 20-minute sessions, three times per week for 8 weeks, using a micro current cranial electrotherapy stimulator. Blood samples were collected prior to and following the 8-week treatment period for measurement of cortisol, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), and nerve growth factor (NGF) levels. Changes in mood state were also examined at the time of blood collection using the Profile of Mood States (POMS). No significant differences in cortisol, ACTH, BDNF, or NGF were observed between the two participant groups (p > 0.05) following the treatment period. However, those in the Active CES group exhibited significantly decreased Tension-Anxiety and Depression-Dejection scores on the POMS relative to pre-treatment scores (p < 0.05). Furthermore, Depression-Dejection scores following treatment were significantly lower in the Active CES group than in the Sham CES group (p < 0.05). No significant differences were observed in any other POMS scores such as Anger-Hostility, Vigor-Activity, Fatigue-Inertia, and Confusion-Bewilderment (p > 0.05). These results suggest that 8 weeks of CES treatment does not induce changes in blood levels of neurotrophic factors or HPA-axis-related hormones, though such treatment may be effective in treating symptoms of anxiety and depression.


Cranial electrotherapy stimulation; anxiety; depression; mental health; neurotrophic factor

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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