Acupuncture Continuing Education

Electro-Acupuncture is an Antidepressant Research

New research shows that electroacupuncture has an antidepressant effect and prevents atrophy of brain cells. Researchers measured that electroacupuncture prevents atrophy of glial cells in the hippocampus, a portion of the brain. The researches note that there is mounting data showing that major depressive disorder is linked to glia cell atrophy. Glial cells form myelin, a dialectric material necessary for the proper function of the central nervous system. Glial cells also supply nourishment and oxygen to brain neurons. The researchers posit that the antidepressant effect of electroacupuncture may be due to its ability to prevent “glial atrophy in the hippocampus.”

CUS (chronic unpredictable stress) induced depression model rats were used in the study. The study measured that a “daily session of EA [electroacupuncture] treatment significantly reversed the behavioral deficit of these depression model rats.” Electroacupuncture was applied to acupuncture points Du20 (Gv20, BaiHui) and AnMian (Ex17) unilaterally at a rate of once per day for a period of three weeks. The antidepressant effects were quantified using physical state analysis and open field test measurements. The protective effects of electroacupuncture on brain cells was measured by “immunohistochemistry, Western blot analysis and reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.”


Glia atrophy in the hippocampus of chronic unpredictable stress-induced depression model rats is reversed by electroacupuncture treatment. Qiong Liua, Bing Lia, Hai-Yan Zhua, Yan-Qing Wanga, Jin Yu and Gen-Cheng Wu. Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 128, Issue 3, February 2011, Pages 309-313. Institute of Acupuncture Research (WHO Collaborating Center for Traditional Medicine), Department of Integrative Medicine and Neurobiology, Department of Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, State Key Lab of Medical Neurobiology, Institutes of Brain Science, Shanghai Medical College, Fudan University, Shanghai, China.