Objective: To evaluate the feasibility effect of acupuncture on renal function in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Methods: In total, 59 patients with CKD were randomized into acupuncture (AG; n = 30) and sham acupuncture (CG; n = 29) treatment groups. In the AG, acupuncture was applied to bilateral Hegu (LI4), Zusanli (ST36), and Taixi (KI3) to obtain qi, and electroacupuncture (2 Hz) was applied to two acupoint pairs (right Zusanli and Taixi and left Zusanli and Taixi) once per week for 12 weeks. In the CG, the acupuncture methods were identical to in the AG, and the acupuncture needle was applied to the subcutaneous layer at 1.5 cm lateral to the aforementioned acupoints, without electrical discharge. The levels of serum creatinine and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) were measured at 3 months (observation period; O), immediately before the acupuncture treatment (baseline; B), at 12 weeks (after treatment completion; T12), and at the 3-month follow-up (postacupuncture treatment; P).
Results: In total, 53 patients (AG, n = 28; CG, n = 25) with CKD completed the trial. The serum creatinine levels at baseline (B) were 1.45 mg/dL in the AG and 1.67 mg/dL in the CG (p = 0.1298). Furthermore, the change in serum creatinine levels after the acupuncture treatment (T12) was 1.41 mg/dL in the AG and 1.65 mg/dL in the CG (p = 0.0489). The eGFR at baseline was 51.85 mL/min/1.73 m2 in the AG and 42.50 mL/min/1.73 m2 in the CG (p = 0.0855). The change in the eGFR after the acupuncture treatment was 54.50 mL/min/1.73 m2 in the AG and 43.60 mL/min/1.73 m2 in the CG (p = 0.0470).
Conclusion: Acupuncture at bilateral Hegu, Zusanli, and Taixi for 12 weeks reduced creatinine levels and increased eGFR levels. The study only provided a feasibility method for the treatment of patients with CKD. However, the results of this preliminary study warrant further investigation.
Keywords: acupuncture treatment; chronic kidney disease; renal function.