Effects and possible mechanisms of acupuncture at ST36 on upper and lower abdominal symptoms induced by rectal distension in healthy volunteers

Jinsong Liu, Hong Huang, Xiaohong Xu, J. D.Z. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background acupuncture (AP) has been shown to have a therapeutic potential for gastrointestinal motility disorders. The aims of this study were to investigate the effects and possible mechanisms of acupuncture on postprandial upper and lower abdominal symptoms induced by rectal distension (RD). Twenty healthy volunteers were involved in a two-session study (AP and sham-AP, AP and no-AP, or sham-AP and no-AP). In 12 of the volunteers, RD was performed for 60 min in the postprandial state, and AP at ST36 or sham-AP was performed during the second 30-min period of RD. Gastric slow waves and heart rate variability (HRV) were recorded using the electrogastrogram and electrocardiogram, respectively. Upper and lower abdominal symptoms were scored during RD with AP and sham-AP. In five of the subjects, an additional experiment with two sessions (with AP and no-AP) was performed. In the remaining eight volunteers, the same experiment was performed with sham-AP and no-AP was performed. The results were, first, RD at an average volume of 171 ml induced upper and lower abdominal symptoms (P < 0.01). AP, but not sham-AP or no-AP, reduced both upper and lower abdominal symptoms (P < 0.05). Second, RD decreased the percentage of normal gastric slow waves (P < 0.05). AP improved gastric slow waves compared with sham-AP or no-AP (P < 0.05). Third, in the larger, but not smaller, sample size experiment, the vagal activity during the RD plus AP period was significantly higher than that during the RD alone period in the same session and the corresponding period with sham-AP or no-AP in other sessions (P < 0.05). Neither sham-AP nor no-AP showed any effects on vagal activity (P > 0.05). Finally, in the experiment with eight volunteers, neither sham-AP nor no-AP showed any effects on RD-induced impairment in gastric slow waves, abdominal symptoms, or vagal activity (P > 0.05). The conclusions are RD induces upper or lower abdominal symptoms and impairs gastric slow waves in healthy volunteers. AP at ST36 is able to improve upper and lower abdominal symptoms and impaired gastric slow waves induced by RD, possibly mediated via the vagal pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R209-R217
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Volume303
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 15 2012

Keywords

  • Functional gastrointestinal diseases
  • Gastrointestinal motility
  • Slow waves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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