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Effect of electro acupuncture on substance P and corticotropin releasing hormone in IBS





World J Gastroenterol. 2009 Nov 7;15(41):5211-7.


Effect of electro-acupuncture on substance P, its receptor and corticotropin-releasing hormone in rats with irritable bowel syndrome.


Ma XP, Tan LY, Yang Y, Wu HG, Jiang B, Liu HR, Yang L. Shanghai Institute of Acupuncture-Moxibustion and Meridian, Shanghai 200030, China.



AIM: To investigate the effect and mechanism of electro-acupuncture (EA) at ST25 and ST37 on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) of rats.


METHODS: A total of 21 male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into normal group, model group and EA group. A rat model of IBS was established by constraining the limbs and distending the colorectum of rats. Rats in EA group received bilateral EA at ST25 and ST37 with a sparse and intense waveform at a frequency of 2/50 Hz for 15 min, once a day for 7 d as a course. Rats in normal and model groups were stimulated by distending colorectum (CR). An abdominal withdrawal reflex (AWR) scoring system was used to evaluate improvements in visceral hypersensitivity. Toluidine blue-improved method, immunohistochemistry and radioimmunoassay were used to observe mucosal mast cells (MC), changes of substance P (SP) and substance P receptor (SPR) in colon and change of corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) in hypothalamus.


RESULTS: The threshold of visceral sense was significantly lower in model group than in normal group, and significantly higher in EA group than in model group. The number of mucosal MC was greater in model group than in normal group and significantly smaller in EA group than in model group. The CRH level in hypothalamus of rats was significantly higher in model group than in normal group, which was remarkably decreased after electro-acupuncture treatment. The SP and SPR expression in colon of rats in model group was decreased after electro-acupuncture treatment.


CONCLUSION: EA at ST25 and ST37 can decrease the number of mucosal MC and down-regulate the expression of CRH in hypothalamus, and the expression of SP and SPR in colon of rats with IBS. 2009 The WJG Press and Baishideng. All rights reserved.


PMID: 19891022 [PubMed - in process]









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  • This study in rats appears to demonstrate the ability of electro-acupuncture to reduce several biochemicals known to be involved in causing IBS; substance P is a neurotransmitter involved in pain signaling while corticotropin-releasing hormone is released in response to stress and triggers the release of adrenaline, cortisol and other stress hormones from the adrenal glands.

    Human studies of the randomised controlled trial (RCT) type with a large sample of IBS patients would be needed to confirm these results but since there is little chance of adverse effects from electro-acupuncture it may be a treatment option IBS patients should consider.

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