Electroacupuncture (EA) is one of the techniques of acupuncture and is believed to be an effective alternative and complementary treatment in many disorders. The aims of this study were to investigate the effects and mechanisms of EA at acupoint Zusanli (ST36) on the plasticity of interstitial cells of Cajal (ICCs) in partial bowel obstruction.
A Sprague Dawley rat model of partial bowel obstruction was established and EA was conducted at Zusanli (ST36) and Yinglingquan (SP9) in test and control groups, respectively. Experiments were performed to study the effects and mechanisms of EA at Zusanli on intestinal myoelectric activity, distribution and alteration of ICCs, expression of inflammatory mediators, and c-Kit expression.
1) EA at Zusanli somewhat improved slow wave amplitude and frequency in the partial obstruction rats. 2) EA at Zusanli significantly stimulated the recovery of ICC networks and numbers. 3) the pro-inflammatory mediator TNF-α and NO activity were significantly reduced after EA at Zusanli, However, no significant changes were observed in the anti-inflammatory mediator IL-10 activity. 4) EA at Zusanli re-expressed c-Kit protein. However, EA at the control acupoint, SP9, significantly improved slow wave frequency and amplitude, but had no effect on ICC or inflammatory mediators.
We concluded that EA at Zusanli might have a therapeutic effect on ICC plasticity, and that this effect might be mediated via a decrease in pro-inflammatory mediators and through the c-Kit signaling pathway, but that the relationship between EA at different acupoints and myoelectric activity needs further study.