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Acupunct Med. 2020 Mar 20:acupmed2017011405. doi: 10.1136/acupmed-2017-011405. [Epub ahead of print]

Auricular acupuncture induces FNDC5/irisin and attenuates obese inflammation in mice.

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Shan Dong Mental Health Center, Jinan, China.
Department of Neurology, Jinan No.3 People's Hospital, Jinan, China.



To investigate whether auricular acupuncture (AA) attenuates bodyweight and obese inflammation through the release of irisin from muscle tissue in mice.


Sixty 4-week-old mice were fed a high fat diet (HFD) for 4 weeks. These animals were divided into six groups that remained untreated (HFD) or underwent electrical AA (HFD+EAA), sham EAA (HFD+SEAA), adrenalectomy (HFD+AD), adrenalectomy and EAA (HFD+AD+EAA), or adrenalectomy and injection of recombinant lentivirus expressing fibronectin type III domain-containing protein 5 (rFNDC) (HFD+AD+rFNDC) in the ninth week. The EAA and SEAA were performed at two traditional auricular acupuncture points daily for 4 weeks. An additional 10 mice fed a control diet were included as a normal control (NC) group. At the end of the study, norepinephrine (NE) in the serum, tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) and interleukin 1β (IL-1β) in the serum and white adipose tissue, irisin in the serum and muscle, uncoupling protein-1 (UCP-1) in the brown adipose tissue (BAT), and FNDC5 in the muscle, were analysed.


The AD+EAA group exhibited better control of bodyweight and inflammation compared with the AD+SEAA and untreated HFD model groups (P<0.05), especially regarding the increased expression of NE, FNDC5, irisin and UCP-1 (P<0.05). After adrenalectomy, mice receiving EAA had less NE, FNDC5, irisin and UCP-1 as well as greater expression of inflammatory cytokines and bodyweight. However, lentiviral overexpression of rFNDC successfully reversed this situation in the AD mice and mimicked the effects of EAA on bodyweight, inflammation and expression of FNDC5, irisin and UCP-1, although it did not impact NE.


EAA promoted NE release from the adrenal gland leading to further expression of FNDC5, irisin and UCP-1, which contributed to weight management and inflammatory inhibition.


auricular acupuncture; fibronectin type III domain-containing protein 5; high fat diet; irisin; norepinephrine; obesity; uncoupling protein 1

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