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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 429703, 10 pages
Research Article

Dissection of Biological Property of Chinese Acupuncture Point Zusanli Based on Long-Term Treatment via Modulating Multiple Metabolic Pathways

National TCM Key Lab of Serum Pharmacochemistry, Key Lab of Chinmedomics and Key Pharmacometabolomics Platform of Chinese Medicines, First Affiliated Hospital, Heilongjiang University of Chinese Medicine, Heping Road 24, Harbin 150040, China

Received 20 May 2013; Accepted 24 July 2013

Academic Editor: Mee-Ra Rhyu

Copyright © 2013 Guangli Yan 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 has a history of over 3000 years and is a traditional Chinese medical therapy that uses hair-thin metal needles to puncture the skin at specific points on the body to promote wellbeing, while its molecular mechanism and ideal biological pathways are still not clear. High-throughput metabolomics is the global assessment of endogenous metabolites within a biologic system and can potentially provide a more accurate snap shot of the actual physiological state. We hypothesize that acupuncture-treated human would produce unique characterization of metabolic phenotypes. In this study, UPLC/ESI-HDMS coupled with pattern recognition methods and system analysis were carried out to investigate the mechanism and metabolite biomarkers for acupuncture treatment at “Zusanli” acupoint (ST-36) as a case study. The top 5 canonical pathways including alpha-linolenic acid metabolism, d-glutamine and d-glutamate metabolism, citrate cycle, alanine, aspartate, and glutamate metabolism, and vitamin B6 metabolism pathways were acutely perturbed, and 53 differential metabolites were identified by chemical profiling and may be useful to clarify the physiological basis and mechanism of ST-36. More importantly, network construction has led to the integration of metabolites associated with the multiple perturbation pathways. Urine metabolic profiling might be a promising method to investigate the molecular mechanism of acupuncture.