New research measures the biochemical mechanisms by which acupuncture increases IVF (in vitro fertilization) success rates. The study notes that acupuncture improves both IVF success rates and successful pregnancy rates. In this randomized controlled study on laboratory rats, acupuncture was measured against a progestin group and a control group. The researchers concluded that, “Acupuncture could improve the poor receptive state of (the) endometrium due to mifepristone by promoting Th2 cytokines secretion and inhibiting Th1 cytokines to improve blastocyst implantation.” A blastocyst is the embryonic structure of approximately 700-1000 cells that forms 5 days after fertilization in humans. Cytokines are proteins secreted by cells and are cell-signaling molecules used extensively in intercellular communication.
Successful pregnancies are proportional to higher levels of Th2 cytokines.1 Higher levels of Th2 cytokines (IL-6 and IL-10) are present in healthy pregnancies whereas women with chronic miscarriages have higher serum levels of Th1 cytokines. The results show that acupuncture raises serum Th2 cytokines and lowers Th1 cytokines- exactly what is needed to prevent a miscarriage and to enhance IVF success rates.
1. T. G. Wegmann, H. Lin, L. Guilbert, and T. R. Mosmann, “Bidirectional cytokine interactions in the maternal-fetal relationship: is successful pregnancy a TH2 phenomenon?” Immunology Today, vol. 14, no. 7, pp. 353–356, 1993.
2. Juan Gui, Fan Xiong, Jing Li, and Guangying Huang, “Effects of Acupuncture on Th1, Th2 Cytokines in Rats of Implantation Failure,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, Article ID 893023, 10 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/893023