Acupuncture has been used to treat diabetes mellitus (DM) for more than one thousand years. In the present paper, we review new progress of researches on the underlying mechanism of acupuncture intervention for DM. Results showed that acupuncture intervention can relieve DM by 1) reducing body weight through up-regulating leptin level, suppressing insulin resistance and appetite to reduce food intake possibly by way of down-regulating expression of neuropeptide Y in the hypothalamus, retarding gastric emptying velocity, increasing small intestinal peristalsis, raising plasma levels of glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) and peptide YY, etc.; 2) improving pancreas function, raising insulin sensitivity to improve insulin resistance possibly by activating AMP-activated protein kinase and sirtuin 1/ peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1 α signaling, up-regulating activities of cholinergic nerve activity and nitric oxide synthase, and inhibiting apoptosis of pancreatic beta-cells; 3) lowering blood glucose possibly by increasing anaerobic glucose metabolism, regulating activities of vagal and sympathetic nerves; 4) adjusting the levels of related hormones such as melatonin, insulin, glucocorticold, epinephrine, etc. Moreover, acupuncture treatment combined with hypoglycemic drugs has a synergic effect in lowering blood glucose, suggesting a potentially effective approach for improving DM and being worthy of further studying in clinical practice.
Keywords: Acupuncture therapy; Diabetes mellitus; Mechanism; Research progressβ.