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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013, Article ID 808971, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/808971
Research Article

Hypothalamus-Related Resting Brain Network Underlying Short-Term Acupuncture Treatment in Primary Hypertension

1Department of Radiology, Beijing Tiantan Hospital Affiliated to Capital Medical University, Tiantan Xili No. 6, Beijing 100050, China
2Beijing Neurosurgery Institute, Tiantan Xili No. 6, Beijing 100050, China
3Department of Pain, Beijing Tiantan Hospital Affiliated to Capital Medical University, Tiantan Xili No. 6, Beijing 100050, China
4Department of Medicine, China North Vehicle Research Institute Worker’s Hospital, Huaishuling No. 4, Fengtai District, Beijing 100072, China
5Tiantan Community Health Service Center, Fenchang Hutong No. 57, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100061, China
6Ultrasonic Center, Beijing Tiantan Hospital Affiliated to Capital Medical University, Tiantan Xili No. 6, Beijing 100050, China
7Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100190, China
8The Key Laboratory of Biomedical Information Engineering of Ministry of Education, Department of Biomedical Engineering, School of Life Science and Technology, Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an 710049, China

Received 22 February 2013; Revised 31 March 2013; Accepted 11 April 2013

Academic Editor: Baixiao Zhao

Copyright © 2013 Hongyan Chen 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

The present study attempted to explore modulated hypothalamus-seeded resting brain network underlying the cardiovascular system in primary hypertensive patients after short-term acupuncture treatment. Thirty right-handed patients (14 male) were divided randomly into acupuncture and control groups. The acupuncture group received a continuous five-day acupuncture treatment and undertook three resting-state fMRI scans and 24-hour ambulatory blood pressure monitoring (ABPM) as well as SF-36 questionnaires before, after, and one month after acupuncture treatment. The control group undertook fMRI scans and 24-hour ABPM. For verum acupuncture, average blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) decreased after treatment but showed no statistical differences. There were no significant differences in BP and HR between the acupuncture and control groups. Notably, SF-36 indicated that bodily pain (P = 0.005) decreased and vitality (P = 0.036) increased after acupuncture compared to the baseline. The hypothalamus-related brain network showed increased functional connectivity with the medulla, brainstem, cerebellum, limbic system, thalamus, and frontal lobes. In conclusion, short-term acupuncture did not decrease BP significantly but appeared to improve body pain and vitality. Acupuncture may regulate the cardiovascular system through a complicated brain network from the cortical level, the hypothalamus, and the brainstem.