Abstract SNACC-92

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Auricular Acupuncture Leads to Recovery Following Intra-Operative Stroke

Woodbury A, Chen D, Gu X, Yu S, Wei L
Emory, Atlanta, Georgia, United states

Introduction: While the mechanism of action is still unclear, in the United States, acupuncture has been most commonly studied for the treatment of pain-related disorders.1 A recent Cochrane review concluded that the biological effects of acupuncture are promising, but there is no clear evidence for the use of acupuncture in stroke rehabilitation.2 It is likely that acupuncture’s targets are pleiotropic; one proposed mechanism for its protective effects in the central nervous system is through inflammatory modulation.3 We examined auricular acupuncture for anti-inflammatory properties and treatment of ischemic stroke injury in adult rats.

Methods: Adult male Wistar rats were anesthetized with isoflurane anesthesia and underwent right middle cerebral artery occlusion for one hour. Rats were treated immediately post-operatively with either: auricular acupuncture at four low impedance points on the ipsilateral right ear (n=6), auricular acupuncture at four low impedance points on the contralateral left ear (n=5), or no auricular acupuncture (n=5). Another control group was not exposed to stroke nor auricular acupuncture.. Rats underwent behavioral testing with adhesive removal to evaluate recovery of sensori-motor function at post-operative days (POD) 3, 7, 14, and 21. Immuno-histochemical stains, gene arrays, PCR and Western blot were used for detecting cell death and markers of inflammation. Quantification was performed by a blinded investigator.

Results: Ischemic stroke caused a significant decrease in sensori-motor function as measured by sticky-dot testing three days post-operatively (P < 0.001; n=11). This effect was attenuated by auricular acupuncture. A significant improvement in sticky dot removal occurred when auricular acupuncture was performed ipsilateral to the stroke (P <0.05; n=11). During the recovery phase there was no significant difference between any of the groups after POD 3. Auricular acupuncture resulted in the modulation of several inflammatory markers, including those involved in TNF alpha modulation and related interleukins in the cytokine cascade.

Conclusions: Ischemic, intra-operative stroke results in significant loss of function in adult rats. Auricular acupuncture leads to a significant improvement in stroke recovery immediately post-operatively. This is the first study to examine the anti-inflammatory properties of auricular acupuncture and its applications to intra-operative stroke. Although further studies must be performed, auricular acupuncture has the potential to accelerate post-operative recovery, improve return of neurological function following ischemic cerebrovascular accidents, and decrease healthcare costs if correctly applied in a clinical setting.

1. Wang SM, Kain ZN, White P. Acupuncture analgesia: I. The scientific basis. Anesthesia and analgesia. 2008;106:602-610

2. Wu HM, Tang JL, Lin XP, Lau J, Leung PC, Woo J, Li YP. Acupuncture for stroke rehabilitation. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006:CD004131

3. Lan L, Tao J, Chen A, Xie G, Huang J, Lin J, Peng J, Chen L. Electroacupuncture exerts anti-inflammatory effects in cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injured rats via suppression of the tlr4/nf-kappab pathway. International journal of molecular medicine. 2013;31:75-80


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