Comprehensive evaluation of gene expression signatures in response to electroacupuncture stimulation at Zusanli (ST36) acupoint by transcriptomic analysis

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017 Aug 15;17(1):406. doi: 10.1186/s12906-017-1911-0.


Background: Electroacupuncture (EA) has been applied to treat and prevent diseases for years. However, molecular events happened in both the acupunctured site and the internal organs after EA stimulation have not been clarified.

Methods: Here we applied transcriptomic analysis to explore the gene expression signatures after EA stimulation. Mice were applied EA stimulation at ST36 for 15 min and nine tissues were collected three hours later for microarray analysis.

Results: We found that EA affected the expression of genes not only in the acupunctured site but also in the internal organs. EA commonly affected biological networks involved in cytoskeleton and cell adhesion, and also regulated unique process networks in specific organs, such as γ-aminobutyric acid-ergic neurotransmission in brain and inflammation process in lung. In addition, EA affected the expression of genes related to various diseases, such as neurodegenerative diseases in brain and obstructive pulmonary diseases in lung.

Conclusions: This report applied, for the first time, a global comprehensive genome-wide approach to analyze the gene expression profiling of acupunctured site and internal organs after EA stimulation. The connection between gene expression signatures, biological processes, and diseases might provide a basis for prediction and explanation on the therapeutic potentials of acupuncture in organs.

Keywords: Electroacupuncture; Microarray; ST36; Zusanli.

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Points*
  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Electroacupuncture*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Inflammation
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung Diseases, Obstructive
  • Meridians
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases
  • Synaptic Transmission
  • Transcriptome*