Low-Frequency Electroacupuncture Improves Insulin Sensitivity in Obese Diabetic Mice through Activation of SIRT1/PGC-1α in Skeletal Muscle

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2011;2011:735297. doi: 10.1155/2011/735297. Epub 2010 Oct 26.


Electroacupuncture (EA) has been observed to reduce insulin resistance in obesity and diabetes. However, the biochemical mechanism underlying this effect remains unclear. This study investigated the effects of low-frequency EA on metabolic action in genetically obese and type 2 diabetic db/db mice. Nine-week-old db/m and db/db mice were randomly divided into four groups, namely, db/m, db/m + EA, db/db, and db/db + EA. db/m + EA and db/db + EA mice received 3-Hz electroacupuncture five times weekly for eight consecutive weeks. In db/db mice, EA tempered the increase in fasting blood glucose, food intake, and body mass and maintained insulin levels. In EA-treated db/db mice, improved insulin sensitivity was established through intraperitoneal insulin tolerance test. EA was likewise observed to decrease free fatty acid levels in db/db mice; it increased protein expression in skeletal muscle Sirtuin 1 (SIRT1) and induced gene expression of peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α), nuclear respiratory factor 1 (NRF1), and acyl-CoA oxidase (ACOX). These results indicated that EA offers a beneficial effect on insulin resistance in obese and diabetic db/db mice, at least partly, via stimulation of SIRT1/PGC-1α, thus resulting in improved insulin signal.