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Neural Regen Res. 2017 Jul;12(7):1159-1165. doi: 10.4103/1673-5374.211197.

Long-term acupuncture treatment has a multi-targeting regulation on multiple brain regions in rats with Alzheimer's disease: a positron emission tomography study.

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School of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China.
Traditional Chinese Medicine of the Second Clinical School, Guangdong Medical College, Dongguan, Guangdong Province, China.
Zhaoqing Medical College, Zhaoqing, Guangdong Province, China.
Clinical Medical College of Acupuncture, Moxibustion and Rehabilitation, Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China.
Key Laboratory of Nuclear Analytical Techniques, Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China.
Shenzhen Hospital of Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine, Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China.
Huarui Hospital of Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China.
National Institute of Complementary Medicine, Western Sydney University, Penrith NSW, Australia.


The acute effect of acupuncture on Alzheimer's disease, i.e., on brain activation during treatment, has been reported. However, the effect of long-term acupuncture on brain activation in Alzheimer's disease is unclear. Therefore, in this study, we performed long-term needling at Zusanli (ST36) or a sham point (1.5 mm lateral to ST36) in a rat Alzheimer's disease model, for 30 minutes, once per day, for 30 days. The rats underwent 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography scanning. Positron emission tomography images were processed with SPM2. The brain areas activated after needling at ST36 included the left hippocampus, the left orbital cortex, the left infralimbic cortex, the left olfactory cortex, the left cerebellum and the left pons. In the sham-point group, the activated regions were similar to those in the ST36 group. However, the ST36 group showed greater activation in the cerebellum and pons than the sham-point group. These findings suggest that long-term acupuncture treatment has targeted regulatory effects on multiple brain regions in rats with Alzheimer's disease.


Alzheimer's disease; Zusanli (ST36); acupuncture; compensation; long-term treatment; mechanism; multi-target regulation; nerve regeneration; neural regeneration; neurodegeneration; positron emission tomography; rat; targeting effect

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