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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 290489, 8 pages
Research Article

Electroacupuncture Inhibits Inflammation Reaction by Upregulating Vasoactive Intestinal Peptide in Rats with Adjuvant-Induced Arthritis

1Institute of Acupuncture-Moxibustion and Meridian, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200030, China
2Laboratory Center of Medicine, Yueyang Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200437, China

Received 27 November 2009; Revised 12 July 2010; Accepted 22 August 2010

Copyright © 2011 Tian-Feng He 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.


Acupuncture is emerging as an alternative therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, the molecular mechanism underlying this beneficial effect of acupuncture has not been fully understood. Here, we demonstrated that electroacupuncture at acupoints Zusanli (ST36), Xuanzhong (GB39); and Shenshu (BL23) markedly decreased the paw swelling and the histologic scores of inflammation in the synovial tissue, and reduced the body weight loss in an adjuvant-induced arthritis rat model. However, the electrical stimulation at nonacupoint did not produce any beneficial effects against the experimental arthritis. Most interestingly, the electroacupuncture treatment resulted in an enhanced immunostaining for vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), a potent anti-inflammatory neuropeptide, in the synovial tissue. Moreover, the VIP-immunostaining intensity was significantly negatively correlated with the scores of inflammation in the synovial tissue ( , ). In conclusion, these findings suggest that electroacupuncture may offer therapeutic benefits for the treatment of RA, at least partially through the induction of VIP expression.