Objective: Acupuncture is a commonly used method to provide motor-symptomatic relief for patients with Parkinson s disease (PD). Our objective was to evaluate protective effects of acupuncture treatment and potential underlying mechanisms according to the "gut-brain axis" theory.
Methods: We employed a 6-OHDA-induced PD rat model. The effects of acupuncture on disease development were assessed by behavioural tests and immunohistochistry (IHC). ELISA, qPCR and western blot (WB) were employed to measure inflammatory parameters and Fe metabolism in the substantia nigra (SN), striatum, duodenum and blood, respectively.
Results: Our data show that acupuncture can significantly increase the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), compared with untreated and madopa treated rats (P < 0.01 and P < 0.05, respectively). Furthermore we could observe significantly decreased levels of pro-inflammatory markers in the duodenum and serum (P < 0.05), reduced deposition of Fe in the substantia nigra (P < 0.05) and but no change in transferrin expression after acupuncture treatment. The mRNA ratio of DMT1/Fpn1 in the SN of acupuncture treated rats (1.1) was comparable to that of the sham group (1.0) which differed both significantly from the untreated and madopa treated groups (P < 0.05). Furthermore, after acupuncture expression of α-synuclein was decreased in the duodenum.
Conclusions: Acupuncture can reduce iron accumulation in the SN and protect the loss of dopamine neurons by promoting balanced expression of the iron importer DMT1 and the iron exporter Fpn1. Furthermore CNS iron homeostasis may be affected by reduced systemic and intestinal inflammation.
Keywords: Acupuncture; DA, dopamine; DMT1, divalent metalloion transporter 1; Fpn1, ferritin 1; GI, Gastrointestinal; Gut-brain; IHC, immunohistochemical; Iron accumulation; Parkinson’s disease (PD); SN, substantia nigral; SNc, substantia nigra pars compacta; TH, tyrosine hydroxylase.
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