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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 627342, 7 pages
Research Article

Neuronal Activity Stimulated by Liquid Substrates Injection at Zusanli (ST36) Acupoint: The Possible Mechanism of Aquapuncture

1Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy, College of Medicine, National Cheng-Kung University, Tainan 701, Taiwan
2Graduate Institute and Department of Veterinary Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, National Pingtung University of Science and Technology, 1 Shuefu Road, Neipu, Pingtung 912, Taiwan
3Department of Anesthesiology, National Cheng Kung University College of Medicine and Hospital, Tainan 701, Taiwan
4Graduate Institute of Chinese Medical Science, China Medical University, Taichung 404, Taiwan

Received 28 October 2013; Revised 1 January 2014; Accepted 27 January 2014; Published 6 March 2014

Academic Editor: Stephanie Tjen-A-Looi

Copyright © 2014 Chun-Yen 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.


Aquapuncture is a modified acupuncture technique and it is generally accepted that it has a greater therapeutic effect than acupuncture because of the combination of the acupoint stimulation and the pharmacological effect of the drugs. However, to date, the mechanisms underlying the effects of aquapuncture remain unclear. We hypothesized that both the change in the local spatial configuration and the substrate stimulation of aquapuncture would activate neuronal signaling. Thus, bee venom, normal saline, and vitamins B1 and B12 were injected into a Zusanli (ST36) acupoint as substrate of aquapuncture, whereas a dry needle was inserted into ST36 as a control. After aquapuncture, activated neurons expressing Fos protein were mainly observed in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord in lumbar segments L3–5, with the distribution nearly identical among all groups. However, the bee venom injection induced significantly more Fos-expressing neurons than the other substrates. Based on these data, we suggest that changes in the spatial configuration of the acupoint activate neuronal signaling and that bee venom may further strengthen this neuronal activity. In conclusion, the mechanisms for the effects of aquapuncture appear to be the spatial configuration changes occurring within the acupoint and the ability of injected substrates to stimulate neuronal activity.