Effects of Retinal Transcription Regulation After GB20 Needling Treatment in Retina With Optic Neuritis

Front Integr Neurosci. 2020 Sep 29;14:568449. doi: 10.3389/fnint.2020.568449. eCollection 2020.


Optic neuritis (ON) is one of the most frequent symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS) that results in progressive loss of axons and neurons. In clinical trials of Traditional Chinese Medicine, needling at the GB20 acupoint has been widely used for the treatment of ocular diseases, including ON. However, the molecular mechanisms of needling at this site are still unclear. In this study, we generated an experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) mouse model and investigated the effects of needling treatment at the GB20 acupoint on retina with EAE-associated ON. RNA sequencing of the retinal transcriptome revealed that, of the 234 differentially expressed genes induced by ON, 100 genes were upregulated, and 134 genes were downregulated by ON, while needling at the GB20 acupoint specifically reversed the expression of 21 genes compared with control treatment at GV16 acupoint. Among the reversed genes, Nr4a3, Sncg, Uchl1, and Tppp3 were involved in axon development and regeneration and were downregulated by ON, indicating the beneficial effect of needling at GB20. Further gene ontology (GO) enrichment analysis revealed that needling at GB20 affected the molecular process of Circadian rhythm in mouse retina with ON. Our study first reported that needling treatment after ON at the GB20 acupoint regulated gene expression of the retina and reversed the expression of downregulated axon development-related genes. This study also demonstrated that GV16 was a perfect control treatment site for GB20 in animal research. Our study provided a scientific basis for needling treatments at GB20 for ocular diseases.

Keywords: GB20 (Fengchi); GV16 (Fengfu); RNA sequencing; needling; optic neuritis.