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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 4, Issue 4, Pages 447-453
http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ecam/nel107
Original Article

Acupuncture Regulates Leukocyte Subpopulations in Human Peripheral Blood

1Department of Fundamental Research for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Kanazawa Medical University, Ishikawa, Japan
2Department of General Medicine, Kanazawa Medical University, Ishikawa, Japan
3Ishikawa Natural Medicinal Products Research Center, Kanazawa, Ishikawa, Japan
4Department of Physiology, Meiji University of Oriental Medicine, Kyoto, Japan

Copyright © 2007 Nobuo Yamaguchi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Acupuncture has recently been attracting more and more people throughout the world as an alternative treatment, however little is known about its physiological activities (i.e. immune system). We examined acupuncture both quantitatively and qualitatively by measuring CD-positive cell counts and cytokine expression levels in the blood, to determine the activity of T cells, B cells, macrophages and natural killer (NK) cells. Fifteen milliliters of peripheral blood obtained from 17 healthy volunteers aged 21–51 years, were analyzed using flow cytometry before and after acupuncture treatment. There was a statistically significant increase in the number of CD2+, CD4+, CD8+, CD11b+, CD16+, CD19+, CD56+ cells as well as IL-4, IL-1β and IFN-γ levels in the cells after acupuncture stimulation of meridian points. These observations indicate that acupuncture may regulate the immune system and promote the activities of humoral and cellular immunity as well as NK cell activity. In this article, we discussed how acupuncture regulated leukocyte numbers and functions since they are considered to be potential indicators for evaluating complementary and alternative medicine.