Autonomically mediated anti-inflammatory effects of electrical stimulation at acupoints in a rodent model of colonic inflammation

Haifeng Jin, Jie Guo, Jiemin Liu, Bin Lyu, Robert D. Foreman, Zhaohong Shi, Jieyun Yin, Jiande Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Acupuncture has been widely accepted for treatments of many diseases. This study was performed to determine effects and mechanisms of electroacupuncture (EA) by chronically implanted electrodes at acupoint ST36 on colonic inflammation induced by TNBS in rats. Methods: After intrarectal administration of TNBS, the rats were treated with sham-EA, EA1/EA2 (two sets of parameters) for 3 weeks. Disease activity index (DAI), macroscopic and microscopic lesions, plasma levels of TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-6 were observed as evaluation of inflammatory responses. The autonomic function was assessed by analysis of the heart rate variability. Results: (a) Vagal activity was significantly increased with both acute and chronic EA1/EA2; (b) DAI was significantly decreased with both chronic EA1 and EA2, and EA2 was more potent than EA1 (P < 0.05); (c) The macroscopic score was 6.4 ± 0.6 with sham-EA and reduced to 4.9 ± 0.1 with EA1 (P < 0.05) and 4.0 ± 0.2 with EA2 (all P < 0.05). The histological score was 4.05 ± 0.58 with sham-EA and remained unchanged (3.71 ± 0.28) with EA1 (P > 0.05) but reduced to 3.0 ± 0.3 with EA2 (P < 0.01); (d) The plasma levels of TNF-α, IL-1β and IL-6 were significantly decreased with EA2. Conclusions: Electrical stimulation at ST36 improves colonic inflammation in TNBS-treated rats by inhibiting pro-inflammatory cytokines via the autonomic mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere13615
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019



  • autonomic function
  • bioelectronic medicine
  • electroacupuncture
  • intestinal inflammation
  • neuromodulation
  • ulcerative colitis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Gastroenterology

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