Scientific reports

Acupuncture elicits neuroprotective effect by inhibiting NAPDH oxidase-mediated reactive oxygen species production in cerebral ischaemia.

PMID 26656460


In the current study, we aimed to investigate whether NADPH oxidase, a major ROS-producing enzyme, was involved in the antioxidant effect of acupuncture on cognitive impairment after cerebral ischaemia. The cognitive function, infract size, neuron cell loss, level of superoxide anion and expression of NADPH oxidase subunit in hippocampus of two-vessel occlusion (2VO) rats were determined after 2-week acupuncture. Furthermore, the cognitive function and production of O2(-) were determined in the presence and absence of NADPH oxidase agonist (TBCA) and antagonist (Apocynin). The effect of acupuncture on cognitive function after cerebral ischaemia in gp91phox-KO mice was evaluated by Morris water maze. Acupuncture reduced infarct size, attenuated overproduction of O2(-), and reversed consequential cognitive impairment and neuron cell loss in 2VO rats. The elevations of gp91phox and p47phox after 2VO were significantly decreased after acupuncture treatment. However, no differences of gp91phox mRNA were found among any experimental groups. Furthermore, these beneficial effects were reversed by TBCA, whereas apocynin mimicked the effect of acupuncture by improving cognitive function and decreasing O2(-) generation. Acupuncture failed to improve the memory impairment in gp91phox KO mice. Full function of the NADPH oxidase enzyme plays an important role in neuroprotective effects against cognitive impairment via inhibition of NAPDH oxidase-mediated oxidative stress.