Cerebral activation effects of acupuncture using Zusanli (ST36) and Yanglingquan (GB34) points based on Regional Homogeneity indices: A resting-state fMRI study

J Xray Sci Technol. 2016;24(2):297-308. doi: 10.3233/XST-160557.


Objective: This study aimed to observe the cerebral activation effects of acupuncturing the Zusanli (ST36) plusYanglingquan (GB34) points in young healthy volunteers based on Regional Homogeneity (ReHo) indices.

Methods: Ten healthy volunteers were enrolled, including 4 males and 6 females between the ages 20 and 34 years with a median age of 23 years. Magnetic resonance imaging (GE Signa HDxt 3.0T) was performed in four groups: Before acupuncture (Control Group), after acupuncture at Zusanli (ST36 Group), after acupuncture at Yanglingquan (GB34 Group) and after acupuncture at both Zusanli and Yanglingquan (Compatibility Group). Differences in the brain ReHo indices of the 4 groups were analyzed by statistical parametric mapping (SPM8) and ReHo data processing methods. The significantly different brain regions were obtained using a false discovery rate correction (FDR-Corrected).

Results: The ReHo indices revealed that the main significant effect was in the Compatibility Group. Compared with the resting state of the Control Group, the ReHo values of the Compatibility Group increased in the right middle frontal gyrus (BA8, 9), left superior temporal areas (BA22), ventral anterior cingulate area (BA24) and right inferior parietal lobe (BA40); in contrast, the ReHo values decreased in the left thalamus, right insular cortex (BA13), left inferior frontal lobe (BA9) and right dorsal anterior cingulate area (BA32). Our analysis showed that the Compatibility Group had higher ReHo values than the left inferior parietal lobule (BA40) and right frontal cortex (BA6) of the ST36 Group and the posterior lobe of the right cerebellum, dorsal anterior cingulate (BA32), left and right middle frontal gyrus (BA46, BA9), left precuneus (BA7), right inferior parietal love (BA40) of the GB34 Group.

Conclusion: The results of our neuroimaging study suggest that the combination of acupoints could more widely activate areas of the brain compared to a single acupoint. Additionally, the combination of acupoints can activate some new brain areas and generate new curative effects.

Keywords: Acupuncture; Regional Homogeneity (ReHo) indices; Yanglingquan (GB34); Zusanli (ST36); functional magnetic resonance imaging.

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Points*
  • Adult
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Young Adult