Animal-model research examines molecular mechanisms for blood-pressure lowering effect of ancient Chinese therapy

November 2, 2012 by Anne Delotto Baier
Dr. Shufeng Zhou led the USF-China acupuncture study.

(Medical Xpress)—An increase in antioxidant enzymes triggered by acupuncture appeared to play a role in reducing high blood pressure in hypertensive rats treated with the ancient Chinese therapy, a study by researchers at the University of South Florida College of Pharmacy and Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine found.

The study findings were reported online last month in the biomedical journal PLoS ONE.

"The data clearly show that acupuncture can modulate the expression of enzymes involved in processes that may protect against free radical damage to ," said Shufeng Zhou, MD, PhD, associate vice president of Global Medical Development at USF Health and professor and associate dean of International Research at the USF College of Pharmacy.  "We need to know the for acupuncture to determine the best ways to use it."

Acupuncture has been an integral part of Chinese medicine for at least 2,500 years.  Although still somewhat controversial in mainstream , it has become one of the most widely practiced forms of alternative medicine in the United States.  More than 2 million Americans report recent use of acupuncture for conditions ranging from chronic pain to osteoarthritis and migraines.

Acupuncture involves inserting very to stimulate various "acupoints" on the body associated with specific energy pathways or meridians. It's based on the theory that illness can result when the body's free flow of energy, called 'Qi' (pronounced 'chee'), becomes disrupted or blocked.  Acupuncture is thought to restore health by restoring the body's energy balance.

In the USF-Guangzhou study, that had been acclimated to gentle handling and blood pressure measurements were randomized to receive either acupuncture (performed by a Chinese doctor trained in acupuncture), a sham procedure, or no treatment at all.   

For seven days the rats receiving acupuncture were administered a daily 5-minute treatment, which stimulated the "Taichong" acupoint located between the first and second metatarsal bones at top of the foot.  The sham procedure followed the same protocol, including needle insertion, but the insertion point was not one of the precise sites prescribed by traditional Chinese medicine for treating blood pressure.

At the end of the study, the group of Taichong-treated rats had significantly lower blood pressures than either the group receiving sham acupuncture or the untreated group. The reduction was not enough to bring the blood pressure down to normal levels.

The researchers also examined the part of the brain involved in regulating blood pressure. They found that decreased expression of seven proteins in the acupuncture-treated rats' brains was accompanied by an increase in six .

The researchers suggest that the blood pressure-lowering effect of acupuncture may be partially explained by an overall decrease in cellular oxidative stress prompted by a boost in enzymes that help clear toxins called free radicals from the body.  However, they emphasize more studies are needed to further investigate the effects of oxidative stress regulation by in the long-term treatment of .

Explore further: Acupuncture reduces protein linked to stress in first of its kind animal study

More information: Lai, X., et al., Proteomic Response to Acupuncture Treatment in Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats. PLoS ONE  7(9): e44216. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0044216.

Related Stories

Acupuncture reduces protein linked to stress in first of its kind animal study

December 19, 2011
Acupuncture significantly reduces levels of a protein in rats linked to chronic stress, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) have found. They say their animal study may help explain the sense of well-being ...

Study suggests acupuncture may be better than no acupuncture, sham acupuncture for chronic pain

September 10, 2012
An analysis of patient data from 29 randomized controlled trials suggests that acupuncture may be better than no acupuncture or sham acupuncture for the treatment of some chronic pain, according to a report published Online ...

Two randomized controlled trials highlight difficulties in treating migraines

January 9, 2012
Acupuncture and sham acupuncture appear equally effective in treating migraines, according to a clinical trial published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine may help women with chronic pelvic pain

March 22, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine may have a role to play in the treatment of health problems linked to chronic pelvic pain (CPP), say experts from the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists ...

Recommended for you

Exercise can make cells healthier, promoting longer life, study finds

September 22, 2017
Whether it's running, walking, cycling, swimming or rowing, it's been well-known since ancient times that doing some form of aerobic exercise is essential to good health and well-being. You can lose weight, sleep better, ...

Breathing dirty air may harm kidneys, study finds

September 21, 2017
Outdoor air pollution has long been linked to major health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. A new study now adds kidney disease to the list, according to ...

Excess dietary manganese promotes staph heart infection

September 21, 2017
Too much dietary manganese—an essential trace mineral found in leafy green vegetables, fruits and nuts—promotes infection of the heart by the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus ("staph").

Being active saves lives whether a gym workout, walking to work or washing the floor

September 21, 2017
Physical activity of any kind can prevent heart disease and death, says a large international study involving more than 130,000 people from 17 countries published this week in The Lancet.

Frequent blood donations safe for some, but not all

September 21, 2017
(HealthDay)—Some people may safely donate blood as often as every eight weeks—but that may not be a healthy choice for all, a new study suggests.

Higher manganese levels in children correlate with lower IQ scores, study finds

September 21, 2017
A study led by environmental health researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine finds that children in East Liverpool, Ohio with higher levels of Manganese (Mn) had lower IQ scores. The research appears ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.