A new study has measured the effects of electro-acupuncture on the regeneration of the spinal cord following injury. The experiment was performed on rats with spinal cords that were demyelinated in the thoracic vertebrae region at T10. The research conducted by the Division of Neuroscience at Sun Yat-Sen University demonstrated that electro-acupuncture stimulated spinal cord repair.
The researchers investigated Governing Vessel stimulation with electro-acupuncture. One measurement was that of increases in the number of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs). OPCs are considered a potentially viable treatment for multiple sclerosis (MS) and OPCs can potentially remyelinate the spinal cord. Electro-acupuncture on the Governing Vessel (Du Mai) increased OPCs, an important factor in the functional recovery of demyelinated spinal cord. Electro-acupuncture also caused OPCs to differentiate into oligodendroycytes – another important factor in spinal cord repair.
Electro-acupuncture was measured to have increased neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) levels in addition to OPCs and oligodendrocytes. NT-3 is a protein growth factor affecting neurons of the peripheral and central nervous system. NT-3 supports the differentiation of neurons and the growth new neurons and synapses. The research clearly measured NT-3 increases by electro-acupuncture on the Governing Vessel in demyelinated spinal cord tissue. NT-3 mediates the differentiation of OPCs into oligodendrocytes thereby promoting functional improvement in demyelinated spinal cord.
Reference: Neuroscience Research, Volume 70, Issue 3, July 2011, Pages 294-304; An experimental electro-acupuncture study in treatment of the rat demyelinated spinal cord injury induced by ethidium bromide. Si-Fan Huanga, Ying Dinga, Jing-Wen Ruanc, Wei Zhanga, Jin-Lang Wud, Bing Hea, Yu-Jiao Zhanga, Yan Lia and Yuan-Shan Zenga.