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Acupunct Med. 2019 Oct;37(5):301-311. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2016-011243. Epub 2019 Jun 21.

Effect of Mongolian warm acupuncture on the gene expression profile of rats with insomnia.

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Inner Mongolia Medical University, Hohhot, China.
Clinical Medicine Research Center of Affiliated Hospital, Inner Mongolia Medical University, Hohhot, China.



The mechanism of Mongolian warm acupuncture (MWA) for the treatment of insomnia has not been previously reported.


To investigate the effect of MWA on gene expression profile in the p-chlorophenylalanine (PCPA)-induced rat model of insomnia.


A rat model of insomnia was established and the animals were divided into five groups: control, PCPA (untreated), PCPA+estazolam, PCPA+MA (manual acupuncture), and PCPA+MWA. The rats were euthanased at 7 days after treatment, and hypothalamic tissue was harvested to extract total RNA for the analysis of gene expression profile. Micro-array and Partek Genomics Suite analysis system were used to analyse differential expression of genes between groups. Furthermore, ingenuity pathways analysis was used to analyse the main regulators.


After treatment, in rats with improved sleep, micro-array data from the follow-up phase compared with baseline showed that MWA down-regulated 11 genes compared with the control group and 16 genes compared with the PCPA group. Six genes were selected following the micro-array detection to perform quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) verification, and the results showed that the coincidence rate was up to 90%, which verified the reliability of the microarray results. Compared with the PCPA group, transcription levels of Egr 1, Btg2 and BDNF in the PCPA+MWA group were up-regulated (P<0.05).


In combination, the findings of this study suggests that MWA is efficacious at improving sleep in an experimental rat model of insomnia.


Mongolian warm acupuncture; cell biology; insomnia; micro-array; p-chlorophenylalanine

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