Among several biological correlates that may explain the principle of acupuncture, the autonomic nervous system (ANS) is frequently considered to be a mediator of acupuncture stimulation because it can interconnect external somatosensory inputs with internal organ responses via the central neural networks. Sympathetic and the parasympathetic nerves broadly regulates the functions of internal organs, which has been a primary target for exploring the possible effect of cutaneous AS on internal organs. Lim et al(Lim et al. 2016) from Daejeon University, Korean investigated the functional involvement of acupuncture stimulation in the regulation of inflammatory responses.
- TNF-α production in mouse serum, which was induced by lipopolysaccharide (LPS) administration, was decreased by manual acupuncture at the ST36. In the spleen, TNF-α mRNA and protein levels were also downregulated by acupuncture and were recovered by using a splenic neurectomy and a vagotomy.
- c-Fos, which was induced in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) and dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve (DMV) by LPS and electro-acupuncture, was further increased by focal administration of the AMPA receptor blocker CNQX and the purinergic receptor antagonist PPADS.
- TNF-α levels in the spleen were decreased by CNQX and PPADS treatments, implying the involvement of inhibitory neuronal activity in the DVC.
- In unanesthetized animals, both manual acupuncture and electro-acupuncture generated c-Fos induction in the DVC neurons. However, manual acupuncture was effective in decreasing splenic TNF-α production.
They concluded that the therapeutic effects of acupuncture may be mediated through vagal modulation of inflammatory responses in internal organs.
- Lim, Hee-Don, Min-Hee Kim, Chan-Yong Lee, and Uk Namgung. 2016. “Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Acupuncture Stimulation via the Vagus Nerve.” Edited by Michal Hetman. PLOS ONE, March, e0151882. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0151882.