African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines

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Electroacupuncture at the Wangu acupoint suppresses expression of inflammatory cytokines in the hippocampus of rats with vascular dementia

Yanan Fang, Rubo Sui


Background: Vascular dementia (VD) is the most frequent psychiatric complication of stroke, and is often difficult to treat. Incidence rate of vascular cognition impairment is still 70% after stroke in one year (Sui R et al.2011). Stroke patients with VD suffer from a higher mortality rate and have worse functional outcomes and quality of life. However, despite the extensive literatures on this topic, there is no agreement on the causal mechanisms and effective therapy for VD. The objective of this study is to examine if electroacupuncture at the Wangu acupoint (GB 12), whose position is similar to the cerebellar fastigial nucleus, could reduce inflammatory cytokines in the hippocampus of rats with vascular dementia (VD).

Materials and Methods: The 54 healthy, male, Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats, 9 months old, and of clean grade (300-450) g, were randomly divided into three groups: sham surgery group, VD group and electro-acupuncture group. The ethology scores of VD rats were evaluated and the mRNA expressions of inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-1β) in the hippocampus were assessed and the hippocampal tissues were observed by hematoxylin-eosin staining.

Results: Compared with the VD group, in the electroacupuncture group, the rats’ learning ability improved significantly and the mRNA expression of TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-1β decreased. Simultaneously, the damage extent of nerve cells in the hippocampal tissues decreased, with their morphology recovered to nearly normal.

Conclusions: Electro-acupuncture at the Wangu acupoint can decrease the levels of inflammatory cytokines in the hippocampus, reduce the damage extent of nerve cells in the hippocampus, and thus provide a new neuroprotective method in VD

Keywords: Vascular Dementia, Hippocampus, Cytokines, Electroacupuncture, “Wangu” acupoint

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