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1.  Local Anesthesia at ST36 to Reveal Responding Brain Areas to deqi 
Background. Development of non-deqi control is still a challenge. This study aims to set up a potential approach to non-deqi control by using lidocaine anesthesia at ST36. Methods. Forty healthy volunteers were recruited and they received two fMRI scans. One was accompanied with manual acupuncture at ST36 (DQ group), and another was associated with both local anesthesia and manual acupuncture at the same acupoint (LA group). Results. Comparing to DQ group, more than 90 percent deqi sensations were reduced by local anesthesia in LA group. The mainly activated regions in DQ group were bilateral IFG, S1, primary motor cortex, IPL, thalamus, insula, claustrum, cingulate gyrus, putamen, superior temporal gyrus, and cerebellum. Surprisingly only cerebellum showed significant activation in LA group. Compared to the two groups, bilateral S1, insula, ipsilateral IFG, IPL, claustrum, and contralateral ACC were remarkably activated. Conclusions. Local anesthesia at ST36 is able to block most of the deqi feelings and inhibit brain responses to deqi, which would be developed into a potential approach for non-deqi control. Bilateral S1, insula, ipsilateral IFG, IPL, claustrum, and contralateral ACC might be the key brain regions responding to deqi.
PMCID: PMC3914330  PMID: 24550995
2.  Gene Expression Profiles at Moxibustioned Site (ST36): A Microarray Analysis 
As a major alternative therapy in Traditional Chinese Medicine, it has been demonstrated that moxibustion could generate a series of molecular events in blood, spleen, and brain, and so forth. However, what would happen at the moxibustioned site remained unclear. To answer this question, we performed a microarray analysis with skin tissue taken from the moxibustioned site also Zusanli acupoint (ST36) where 15-minute moxibustion stimulation was administrated. The results exhibited 145 upregulated and 72 downregulated genes which responded immediately under physiological conditions, and 255 upregulated and 243 downregulated genes under pathological conditions. Interestingly, most of the pathways and biological processes of the differentially expressed genes (DEGs) under pathological conditions get involved in immunity, while those under physiological conditions are involved in metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3807720  PMID: 24198847
3.  Moxibustion inhibits interleukin-12 and tumor necrosis factor alpha and modulates intestinal flora in rat with ulcerative colitis 
AIM: To investigate the effect of moxibustion on intestinal flora and release of interleukin-12 (IL-12) and tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) from the colon in rat with ulcerative colitis (UC).
METHODS: A rat model of UC was established by local stimulation of the intestine with supernatant from colonic contents harvested from human UC patients. A total of 40 male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into the following groups: normal (sham), model (UC), herb-partition moxibustion (HPM-treated), and positive control sulfasalazine (SA-treated). Rats treated with HPM received HPM at acupuncture points ST25 and RN6, once a day for 15 min, for a total of 8 d. Rats in the SA group were perfused with SA twice a day for 8 d. The colonic histopathology was observed by hematoxylin-eosin. The levels of intestinal flora, including Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, Escherichia coli (E. coli), and Bacteroides fragilis (B. fragilis), were tested by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction to detect bacterial 16S rRNA/DNA in order to determine DNA copy numbers of each specific species. Immunohistochemical assays were used to observe the expression of TNF-α and IL-12 in the rat colons.
RESULTS: HPM treatment inhibited immunopathology in colonic tissues of UC rats; the general morphological score and the immunopathological score were significantly decreased in the HPM and SA groups compared with the model group [3.5 (2.0-4.0), 3.0 (1.5-3.5) vs 6.0 (5.5-7.0), P < 0.05 for the general morphological score, and 3.00 (2.00-3.50), 3.00 (2.50-3.50) vs 5.00 (4.50-5.50), P < 0.01 for the immunopathological score]. As measured by DNA copy number, we found that Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, which are associated with a healthy colon, were significantly higher in the HPM and SA groups than in the model group (1.395 ± 1.339, 1.461 ± 1.152 vs 0.045 ± 0.036, P < 0.01 for Bifidobacterium, and 0.395 ± 0.325, 0.851 ± 0.651 vs 0.0015 ± 0.0014, P < 0.01 for Lactobacillus). On the other hand, E. coli and B. fragilis, which are associated with an inflamed colon, were significantly lower in the HPM and SA groups than in the model group (0.244 ± 0.107, 0.628 ± 0.257 vs 1.691 ± 0.683, P < 0.01 for E. coli, and 0.351 ± 0.181, 0.416 ± 0.329 vs 1.285 ± 1.039, P < 0.01 for B. fragilis). The expression of TNF-α and IL-12 was decreased after HPM and SA treatment as compared to UC model alone (4970.81 ± 959.78, 6635.45 ± 1135.16 vs 12333.81 ± 680.79, P < 0.01 for TNF-α, and 5528.75 ± 1245.72, 7477.38 ± 1259.16 vs 12550.29 ± 1973.30, P < 0.01 for IL-12).
CONCLUSION: HPM treatment can regulate intestinal flora and inhibit the expression of TNF-α and IL-12 in the colon tissues of UC rats, indicating that HPM can improve colonic immune response.
PMCID: PMC3520171  PMID: 23239920
Ulcerative colitis; Herb-partition moxibustion; Intestinal flora; Immune regulation
4.  Revealing metabolite biomarkers for acupuncture treatment by linear programming based feature selection 
BMC Systems Biology  2012;6(Suppl 1):S15.
Acupuncture has been practiced in China for thousands of years as part of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has gradually accepted in western countries as an alternative or complementary treatment. However, the underlying mechanism of acupuncture, especially whether there exists any difference between varies acupoints, remains largely unknown, which hinders its widespread use.
In this study, we develop a novel Linear Programming based Feature Selection method (LPFS) to understand the mechanism of acupuncture effect, at molecular level, by revealing the metabolite biomarkers for acupuncture treatment. Specifically, we generate and investigate the high-throughput metabolic profiles of acupuncture treatment at several acupoints in human. To select the subsets of metabolites that best characterize the acupuncture effect for each meridian point, an optimization model is proposed to identify biomarkers from high-dimensional metabolic data from case and control samples. Importantly, we use nearest centroid as the prototype to simultaneously minimize the number of selected features and the leave-one-out cross validation error of classifier. We compared the performance of LPFS to several state-of-the-art methods, such as SVM recursive feature elimination (SVM-RFE) and sparse multinomial logistic regression approach (SMLR). We find that our LPFS method tends to reveal a small set of metabolites with small standard deviation and large shifts, which exactly serves our requirement for good biomarker. Biologically, several metabolite biomarkers for acupuncture treatment are revealed and serve as the candidates for further mechanism investigation. Also biomakers derived from five meridian points, Zusanli (ST36), Liangmen (ST21), Juliao (ST3), Yanglingquan (GB34), and Weizhong (BL40), are compared for their similarity and difference, which provide evidence for the specificity of acupoints.
Our result demonstrates that metabolic profiling might be a promising method to investigate the molecular mechanism of acupuncture. Comparing with other existing methods, LPFS shows better performance to select a small set of key molecules. In addition, LPFS is a general methodology and can be applied to other high-dimensional data analysis, for example cancer genomics.
PMCID: PMC3403092  PMID: 23046877
5.  Acupuncture for migraine prophylaxis: a randomized controlled trial 
Acupuncture is commonly used to treat migraine. We assessed the efficacy of acupuncture at migraine-specific acupuncture points compared with other acupuncture points and sham acupuncture.
We performed a multicentre, single-blind randomized controlled trial. In total, 480 patients with migraine were randomly assigned to one of four groups (Shaoyang-specific acupuncture, Shaoyang-nonspecific acupuncture, Yangming-specific acupuncture or sham acupuncture [control]). All groups received 20 treatments, which included electrical stimulation, over a period of four weeks. The primary outcome was the number of days with a migraine experienced during weeks 5–8 after randomization. Our secondary outcomes included the frequency of migraine attack, migraine intensity and migraine-specific quality of life.
Compared with patients in the control group, patients in the acupuncture groups reported fewer days with a migraine during weeks 5–8, however the differences between treatments were not significant (p > 0.05). There was a significant reduction in the number of days with a migraine during weeks 13–16 in all acupuncture groups compared with control (Shaoyang-specific acupuncture v. control: difference –1.06 [95% confidence interval (CI) –1.77 to –0.5], p = 0.003; Shaoyang-nonspecific acupuncture v. control: difference –1.22 [95% CI –1.92 to –0.52], p < 0.001; Yangming-specific acupuncture v. control: difference –0.91 [95% CI –1.61 to –0.21], p = 0.011). We found that there was a significant, but not clinically relevant, benefit for almost all secondary outcomes in the three acupuncture groups compared with the control group. We found no relevant differences between the three acupuncture groups.
Acupuncture tested appeared to have a clinically minor effect on migraine prophylaxis compared with sham acupuncture.
Trial Registration: NCT00599586
PMCID: PMC3291669  PMID: 22231691
6.  Acupuncture as a treatment for functional dyspepsia: design and methods of a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2009;10:75.
Acupuncture is widely used in China to treat functional dyspepsia (FD). However, its effectiveness in the treatment of FD, and whether FD-specific acupoints exist, are controversial. So this study aims to determine if acupuncture is an effective treatment for FD and if acupoint specificity exists according to traditional acupuncture meridians and acupoint theories.
This multicenter randomized controlled trial will include four acupoint treatment groups, one non-acupoint control group and one drug (positive control) group. The four acupoint treatment groups will focus on: (1) specific acupoints of the stomach meridian; (2) non-specific acupoints of the stomach meridian; (3) specific acupoints of alarm and transport points; and (4) acupoints of the gallbladder meridian. These four groups of acupoints are thought to differ in terms of clinical efficacy, according to traditional acupuncture meridians and acupoint theories. A total of 120 FD patients will be included in each group. Each patient will receive 20 sessions of acupuncture treatment over 4 weeks. The trial will be conducted in eight hospitals located in three centers of China. The primary outcomes in this trial will include differences in Nepean Dyspepsia Index scores and differences in the Symptom Index of Dyspepsia before randomization, 2 weeks and 4 weeks after randomization, and 1 month and 3 months after completing treatment.
The important features of this trial include the randomization procedures (controlled by a central randomization system), a standardized protocol of acupuncture manipulation, and the fact that this is the first multicenter randomized trial of FD and acupuncture to be performed in China. The results of this trial will determine whether acupuncture is an effective treatment for FD and whether using different acupoints or different meridians leads to differences in clinical efficacy.
Trial registration number
Clinical Identifier: NCT00599677.
PMCID: PMC2736949  PMID: 19698147

Results 1-6 (6)