Purpose: To evaluate the effect of acupuncture on rabbit tear secretion and compare the difference in tear protein expression caused by acupuncture.
Materials and methods: Ten male New Zealand White rabbits were enrolled in this study. The following acupoints around the left eye, Extra 1 (Taiyang), BL 2 (Zanzhu) and SJ 23 (Sizhukong), were selected for acupuncture therapy. Each rabbit received 10 acupuncture sessions of 30 min, three times per week. A quantity of 50 μl rabbit tear was collected at the pre- and post-acupuncture stage in every subject, respectively. Total protein content analysis, one-dimensional gel electrophoresis and quantitative proteomics analysis (iTRAQ) were performed and the results were compared.
Results: Generally, the tear protein expression after acupuncture was different from that before acupuncture though to some extent they were similar. The time spent collecting rabbit tear after acupuncture was shorter than that before acupuncture. The total protein content in rabbit tear pre- and post-acupuncture was 7.12 μg/μl versus 11.28 μg/μl, respectively. One-dimensional gel electrophoresis showed that tear proteins collected before acupuncture were substantially different than post-acupuncture proteins. In total, twenty-eight tear proteins were identified by iTRAQ. Associated with acupuncture were six up-regulated proteins (tear lipocalin, α-1-antiproteinase, histidine-rich glycoprotein, hemopexin, Vitamin D-binding protein, α-2-HS-glycoprotein) and five down-regulated proteins (Annexin A1, serum amyloid A-3 protein, Helicase-like transcription factor, 15 kDa protein A, protein S100-A9).
Conclusions: The rabbit tear protein expression difference caused by acupuncture indicates that acupuncture not only stimulates lacrimal gland secretion function but also induces the quantitative change of some proteins in rabbit tear, which may support a positive effect of acupuncture in the treatment of dry eye.