Objective: To observe the effect of acupuncture on proliferation and differentiation of neural stem cells in brain tissues of rats with traumatic brain injuny.
Methods: Thirty SD rats were randomly and equally allocated to the sham-operated, the model and the acupuncture groups. The traumatic brain injury model was established by the free drop method. For the rats in the acupuncture group, acupuncture was applied once a day for 7 days. Brain histotomy was carried out when treatments were completed. Immunohistochemical techniques were adopted to detect the cells that express nestin, neurofilament proteins (NF)-200 and glial fibrillary acidic proteins (GFAP), the markers of neural stem cells, neurons, astrocytes respectively.
Results: Compared to the sham-operated group, the number of nestin-positive cells and NF-200-positive cells in brain tissues was decreased significantly in the model group (P < 0.01), whereas the number of GFAP-positive cells was significantly increased P<0.01). Compared to the model group, the positive cells of nestin, NF-200, GFAP in brain tissues in the acupuncture group were increased obviously (P<0.01).
Conclusions: Acupuncture can significantly increase the number of nestin-positive cells, NF-200-positive cells and GFAP-positive cells, indicating the significant increase of neural stem cells, neurons and astrocytes in number. Acupuncture can improve neuranagenesis by promoting the proliferation and differentiation of neural stem cells in brain tissues. This might be one of the mechanisms for acupuncture to treat traumatic brain injury and to promote the repair of nervous function.