A recent study concludes that acupuncture significantly relieves hepatic fibrosis. A study of carbon tetrachloride induced hepatic fibrosis in laboratory rats measured responses to acupuncture treatment. The acupuncture group received acupuncture at LR3 (Taichong), LR14 (Qimen), UB18 (Ganshu), and ST36 (Zusanli). The control group received sham acupuncture, the use of non-acupuncture points. The sham acupuncture points were located 0.5cm to the left of each real point that was used in the acupuncture group. No significant changes were measured for the sham group while the true acupuncture group showed significant hepatoprotective findings.
The acupuncture and control groups received acupuncture treatment three times per week for three weeks followed by two times per week for an additional three weeks. The acupuncture group showed significant amelioration from liver injury upon examination of hepatocyte arrangement, necrosis and hepatic pseudo-lobular formation. MMP-9 protein expression levels of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) were “upregulated remarkably in the acupuncture group” compared with the sham group. MMP-9 (matrix metallopeptidase) is an enzyme that breaks down extracellular matrix and is involved in tissue remodeling. Also, the acupuncture group showed additional significant changes related to the alleviation of liver fibrosis including changes in collagen, fibronectin proteins, TIMP-1 (a tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases), serum hyaluronic acid and laminin, and several other endogenous secretions.
Acupuncture Research. Inhibitory Effect of Acupuncture on Hepatic Extracellular Matrix Production in Carbon Tetrachloride-induced Liver Fibrosis Rats. 2012-01. ZHANG Feng, LU Yin, NI Guang-xia, NI Chun-yan, ZHANG Xue-jiao,WANG Ai-yun, ZHENG Shi-zhong. (Department of Clinical Pharmacy, College of Pharmacy, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing. Teaching and Research Section for Combined Acupuncture and Medication, The Second College of Clinical Medicine, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine. Jiangsu Key Laboratory for Pharmacodynamic Action and Safety Evaluation of Chinese Materia Medica, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine.