Electroacupuncture increased cerebral blood flow and reduced ischemic brain injury: dependence on stimulation intensity and frequency.

Author: Zhou F, Guo J, Cheng J, Wu G, Xia Y.
Affiliation: Shanghai Research Center for Acupuncture and Meridians, Shanghai, China.
Conference/Journal: J Appl Physiol.
Date published: 2011 Dec
Other: Volume ID: 111 , Issue ID: 6 , Pages: 1877-87 , Word Count: 240

Stroke causes ischemic brain injury and is a leading cause of neurological disability and death. There is, however, no promising therapy to protect the brain from ischemic stress to date. Here we show an exciting finding that optimal electroacupuncture (EA) effectively protects the brain from ischemic injury. The experiments were performed on rats subjected to middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) with continuous monitoring of cerebral blood flow. EA was delivered to acupoints of "Shuigou" (Du 26) and "Baihui" (Du 20) with different intensities and frequencies to optimize the stimulation parameters. The results showed that 1) EA at 1.0-1.2 mA and 5-20 Hz remarkably reduced ischemic infarction, neurological deficit, and death rate; 2) the EA treatment increased the blood flow by >100%, which appeared immediately after the initiation of EA and disappeared after the cessation of EA; 3) the EA treatment promoted the recovery of the blood flow after MCAO; 4) "nonoptimal" parameters of EA (e.g., <0.6 mA or >40 Hz) could not improve the blood flow or reduce ischemic injury; and 5) the same EA treatment with optimal parameters could not increase the blood flow in naive brains. These novel observations suggest that appropriate EA treatment protects the brain from cerebral ischemia by increasing blood flow to the ischemic brain region via a rapid regulation. Our findings have far-reaching impacts on the prevention and treatment of ischemic encephalopathy, and the optimized EA parameters may potentially be a useful clue for the clinical application of EA.
PMID: 21836043