Acupuncture for sleep quality, BDNF levels and immunosenescence: a randomized controlled study

Neurosci Lett. 2015 Feb 5;587:35-40. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2014.12.016. Epub 2014 Dec 12.


Poor sleep in elderly populations is associated with detrimental neuropsychological, and physiological changes including premature immunosenescence and reduced brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Here, we evaluated the effects of acupuncture on sleep quality, psychological distress and immunosenescence in elderly, as well as effects on BDNF levels. Forty-eight community-dwelling elderly were randomized into true or placebo acupuncture, and intervention consisted of ten sessions. Sleep quality, depression and stress scores were evaluated by the Pittsburgh sleep quality index (PSQI), beck depression inventory (BDI II) and perceived stress scale (PSS), respectively, before and after the intervention. Lymphocyte subsets commonly associated with stress, sleep impairment and immunosenescence were phenotyped by flow cytometry. BDNF plasma levels were assessed by ELISAs. Acupuncture was highly effective for improving sleep quality (-53.23%; p<0.01), depression (-48.41%; p<0.01), and stress (-25.46%; p<0.01). However, neither lymphocyte subpopulations nor BDNF levels changed following the intervention.

Keywords: Acupuncture; Aging; Depression; Immunity; Lymphocytes; Stress.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Aged
  • Antigens, CD / blood
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / blood*
  • Depression / blood
  • Depression / immunology
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Subsets / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sleep*
  • Stress, Psychological / blood
  • Stress, Psychological / immunology
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology


  • Antigens, CD
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor