Bioluminescence imaging of heme oxygenase-1 upregulation in the Gua Sha procedure

J Vis Exp. 2009 Aug 28;(30):1385. doi: 10.3791/1385.


Gua Sha is a traditional Chinese folk therapy that employs skin scraping to cause subcutaneous microvascular blood extravasation and bruises. The protocol for bioluminescent optical imaging of HO-1-luciferase transgenic mice reported in this manuscript provides a rapid in vivo assay of the upregulation of the heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) gene expression in response to the Gua Sha procedure. HO-1 has long been known to provide cytoprotection against oxidative stress. The upregulation of HO-1, assessed by the bioluminescence output, is thought to represent an antioxidative response to circulating hemoglobin products released by Gua Sha. Gua Sha was administered by repeated strokes of a smooth spoon edge over lubricated skin on the back or other targeted body part of the transgenic mouse until petechiae (splinter hemorrhages) or ecchymosis (bruises) indicative of extravasation of blood from subcutaneous capillaries was observed. After Gua Sha, bioluminescence imaging sessions were carried out daily for several days to follow the dynamics of HO-1 expression in multiple internal organs.

Publication types

  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Female
  • Heme Oxygenase-1 / analysis*
  • Heme Oxygenase-1 / biosynthesis
  • Heme Oxygenase-1 / genetics
  • Luciferases / analysis
  • Luminescent Measurements / methods*
  • Medicine, Traditional*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Skin / blood supply
  • Skin / enzymology
  • Up-Regulation


  • Luciferases
  • Heme Oxygenase-1