Acupuncture regulates the autophagy of ovarian granulosa cells in polycystic ovarian syndrome ovulation disorder by inhibiting the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway through LncMEG3

Biomed Pharmacother. 2021 Dec;144:112288. doi: 10.1016/j.biopha.2021.112288. Epub 2021 Oct 13.


The main features of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are abnormal follicular development and ovulation dysfunction, which are caused by the excessive autophagy of ovarian granulosa cells. Acupuncture has been shown to improve ovulation dysfunction and abnormal follicular development in PCOS patients, but its mechanism is unclear. This study hypothesized that the beneficial effects of acupuncture are the result of LncMEG3-mediated effects on the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway. Acupuncture (CV-4, RN-3, CV-6, SP-6 and EX-CA 1) was used to treat a rat model of polycystic ovary syndrome. Hematoxylin-eosin staining was used to observe ovarian morphology and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, western blotting, immunohistochemistry and real-time PCR were used to detect LH, E2, FSH, T, AMH, LncMEG3, PI3K, AKT, mTOR, P62 and LC3II/I expression. The ovarian morphology of 90% of the rats in the acupuncture treatment group was significantly improved after 11 consecutive days of therapy. Acupuncture also resulted in a significant decrease in serum LH, FSH, T and AMH levels and a significant increase in E2 level (P<0.01). LncMEG3, PI3K, AKT, mTOR, P62 and LC3II/I expression was decreased in ovarian granulosa cells after acupuncture compared with PCOS and lentiviral Intervention Group (P<0.05), while the expression of follicle stimulating hormone receptor was increased (P<0.05). These results indicate that acupuncture can down-regulate the expression of LncMEG3 and thereby inhibit the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, reducing granulosa cell autophagy and normalizing their proliferation. These factors ultimately remedy abnormal follicular development. These findings suggest that acupuncture has clinical potential as a safe treatment for PCOS ovulatory dysfunction.

Keywords: Acupuncture; Granulosa cell autophagy; LncMEG3; Ovulation disorder; Polycystic ovary syndrome.