Subcutaneous tissue fibroblast cytoskeletal remodeling induced by acupuncture: evidence for a mechanotransduction-based mechanism

J Cell Physiol. 2006 Jun;207(3):767-74. doi: 10.1002/jcp.20623.


Acupuncture needle rotation has been previously shown to cause specific mechanical stimulation of subcutaneous connective tissue. This study uses acupuncture to investigate the role of mechanotransduction-based mechanisms in mechanically-induced cytoskeletal remodeling. The effect of acupuncture needle rotation was quantified by morphometric analysis of mouse tissue explants imaged with confocal microscopy. Needle rotation induced extensive fibroblast spreading and lamellipodia formation within 30 min, measurable as an increased in cell body cross sectional area. The effect of rotation peaked with two needle revolutions and decreased with further increases in rotation. Significant effects of rotation were present throughout the tissue, indicating the presence of a response extending laterally over several centimeters. The effect of rotation with two needle revolutions was prevented by pharmacological inhibitors of actomyosin contractility (blebbistatin), Rho kinase (Y-27632 and H-1152), and Rac signaling. The active cytoskeletal response of fibroblasts demonstrated in this study constitutes an important step in understanding cellular mechanotransduction responses to externally applied mechanical stimuli in whole tissue, and supports a previously proposed model for the mechanism of acupuncture involving connective tissue mechanotransduction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture*
  • Animals
  • Cytoskeleton / drug effects
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Fibroblasts
  • Mechanotransduction, Cellular* / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / pharmacology
  • Subcutaneous Tissue / drug effects
  • Subcutaneous Tissue / metabolism*


  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors