Low-frequency electro-acupuncture and physical exercise improve metabolic disturbances and modulate gene expression in adipose tissue in rats with dihydrotestosterone-induced polycystic ovary syndrome

Endocrinology. 2008 Jul;149(7):3559-68. doi: 10.1210/en.2008-0053. Epub 2008 Apr 3.


Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex endocrine and metabolic disorder associated with ovulatory dysfunction, hyperandrogenism, abdominal obesity, and insulin resistance. Pharmacotherapy is often unsatisfactory. This study evaluates the effects of low-frequency electro-acupuncture (EA) and physical exercise on metabolic disturbances and adipose tissue mRNA expression of selected genes in a rat PCOS model characterized by insulin resistance and adiposity. Dihydrotestosterone (inducing PCOS) or vehicle (control) was administrated continuously, beginning before puberty. At age 10 wk, PCOS rats were randomly divided into three groups; PCOS, PCOS EA, and PCOS exercise. PCOS EA rats received 2-Hz EA (evoking muscle twitches) three times/wk during 4-5 wk. PCOS exercise rats had free access to a running wheel for 4-5 wk. EA and exercise improved insulin sensitivity, measured by clamp, in PCOS rats. Exercise also reduced adiposity, visceral adipocyte size, and plasma leptin. EA increased plasma IGF-I. Real-time RT-PCR revealed increased expression of leptin and IL-6 and decreased expression of uncoupling protein 2 in visceral adipose tissue of PCOS rats compared with controls. EA restored the expression of leptin and uncoupling protein 2, whereas exercise normalized adipose tissue leptin and IL-6 expression in PCOS rats. Thus, EA and exercise ameliorate insulin resistance in rats with PCOS. This effect may involve regulation of adipose tissue metabolism and production because EA and exercise each partly restore divergent adipose tissue gene expression associated with insulin resistance, obesity, and inflammation. In contrast to exercise, EA improves insulin sensitivity and modulates adipose tissue gene expression without influencing adipose tissue mass and cellularity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipocytes / cytology
  • Adipocytes / metabolism
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Electroacupuncture / methods*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Interleukin-6 / genetics
  • Ion Channels / genetics
  • Leptin / genetics
  • Mitochondrial Proteins / genetics
  • Physical Conditioning, Animal / physiology*
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / blood
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / chemically induced
  • Polycystic Ovary Syndrome / therapy*
  • Random Allocation
  • Rats
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Uncoupling Protein 2


  • Interleukin-6
  • Ion Channels
  • Leptin
  • Mitochondrial Proteins
  • Ucp2 protein, rat
  • Uncoupling Protein 2
  • Dihydrotestosterone
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I