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24/01/2007 - Acupuncture could be used as a neuroprotective intervention for the purpose of inhibiting microglial activation and inflammatory events in Parkinson's Disease.

News release:

South Korean researchers say that acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine technique of inserting and manipulating needles into various points on the body, may be effective in treating the type of brain inflammation suffered by patients with Parkinson's disease.

Lead researcher Sabina Lim at Kyung Hee University in Seoul and her colleagues used a standard mouse model of Parkinson's disease, in which injections of a chemical known as MPTP kill off brain cells that manufacture dopamine.

Some of the injected mice were then administered acupuncture every two days in two spots, one behind the knee and one on top of the foot, the points which in humans could potentially be seen as targets for treatment of Parkinson's.

Another group of mice received acupuncture in two spots on the hips, not believed to be effective for acupuncture, while a third group had no acupuncture at all.

By the end of seven days, the MPTP injections had decreased dopamine levels both in the mice that not receiving acupuncture, and those who received it to about half the normal amount. But in the acupuncture-treated group, dopamine levels declined much less steeply, and nearly 80 per cent of the dopamine remained.

Lim says that the mechanism behind this effect is still unknown, but she and her team suspect that because inflammation in the brain often accompanies and worsens other symptoms of Parkinson's disease, acupuncture might maintain dopamine levels by preventing inflammation.

They have already performed a clinical trial of acupuncture in humans with Parkinson's disease, but the sample size was not large enough to verify that there was a definite effect.

"The bottom line," Nature magazine quoted Lim as saying, "is that, even though Parkinson's patients are treated with acupuncture therapies in Korea, it is difficult to say that it can 'cure' the disease."

Ruth Walker, a movement disorders researcher at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, said that using acupuncture to treat Parkinson's would also mean diagnosing the disease early enough.

"Parkinson's doesn't even manifest until you have lost a large proportion of dopamine cells," she said.

The study has been published in Brain Research1. (ANI)

Country: South Korea

Institute: Department of Meridian and Acupoints, College of Korean Medicine, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea; WHO Collaborating Centre for Traditional Medicine, East-West Medical Research Institute, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea.

Author(s): Kang JM, Park HJ, Choi YG, Choe IH, Park JH, Kim YS, Lim S.

Abstract:

Acupuncture inhibits microglial activation and inflammatory events in the MPTP-induced mouse model.

Using a mouse model of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-induced Parkinson's disease (PD), this study investigated on the neuroprotective effects of acupuncture by examining whether acupuncture contributed to inhibiting microglial activation and inflammatory events.

C57BL/6 mice were treated with MPTP (30 mg/kg, i.p.) for 5 consecutive days. Acupuncture was then applied to acupoints Yanglingquan (GB34) and Taichong (LR3) starting 2 h after the first MPTP administration and then at 48 h intervals until the mice were sacrificed for analyses at 1, 3, and 7 days after the last MPTP injection. These experiments demonstrated that acupuncture inhibited the decreased of the tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) immunoreactivity (IR) and generated a neuroprotective effects in the striatum (ST) and the substantia nigra (SN) on days 1, 3, and 7 post-MPTP injections. Acupuncture attenuated the increase of macrophage antigen complex-1 (MAC-1), a marker of microglial activation, at 1 and 3 days and reduced the increases in cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression on days 1, 3, and 7. In MPTP group, striatal dopamine (DA) was measured by 46% at 7 days, whereas DA in the acupuncture group was 78%.

On the basis of these results, we suggest that acupuncture could be used as a neuroprotective intervention for the purpose of inhibiting microglial activation and inflammatory events in PD.

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