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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 731395, 10 pages
Research Article

The Effect of Electroacupuncture on the Extracellular Matrix Synthesis and Degradation in a Rabbit Model of Disc Degeneration

1Department of Neurobiology, School of Basic Medicine, Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, 13 Hangkong Road, Wuhan 430030, China
2Department of Acupuncture & Moxibustion, Wuhan Hospital of Integrated Chinese & Western Medicine, Tongji Medical College of Huazhong University of Science & Technology, 215 Zhongshan Road, Wuhan 430022, China

Received 19 February 2014; Revised 24 April 2014; Accepted 6 May 2014; Published 27 May 2014

Academic Editor: Cheng Ke

Copyright © 2014 Guo-fu Huang 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.


The present study was aimed at determining if the electroacupuncture (EA) is able to protect degenerated disc in vivo. New Zealand white rabbits ( ) were used for the study. The rabbits were randomly assigned to four groups. EA intervention was applied to one of the four groups. Magnetic resonance imaging and Pfirrmann’s classification were obtained for each group to evaluate EA treatment on the intervertebral disc degeneration. Discs were analyzed using immunofluorescence for the labeling of collagens 1 and 2, bone morphogenetic protein-2 (BMP-2), matrix metalloproteinase-13 (MMP-13), and tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1). For protein expression analysis, western blot was used for biglycan and decorin. Outcomes indicated that EA intervention decreased the grades compared with the compressed disc. Immunofluorescence analysis showed a significant increase of collagens 1 and 2, TIMP-1, and BMP-2 positive cells, in contrast to MMP-13 after EA treatment for 28 days. The protein expression showed a sign of regeneration that decorin and biglycan were upregulated. It was concluded that EA contributed to the extracellular matrix (ECM) anabolic processes and increased the ECM components. MMPs and their inhibitors involved in the mechanism of EA intervention on ECM decreased disc. It kept a dynamic balance between ECM synthesis and degradation.