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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 219579, 9 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2015/219579
Research Article

Acupuncture Affects Autonomic and Endocrine but Not Behavioural Responses Induced by Startle in Horses

1Department of Physiological Sciences, Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, BR 465, KM 7, 23890 000 Seropédica, RJ, Brazil
2Department of Physiology, School of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto, University of São Paulo, 14049-900 Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
3Veterinary Institute, Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, BR 465, KM 7, 23890 000 Seropédica, RJ, Brazil
4Multicenter Post-Graduation Program in Physiological Sciences, Brazilian Society of Physiology, 05508 000 São Paulo, SP, Brazil
5Post-Graduation Program in Veterinary Medicine and Post-Graduation Program in Physiological Sciences, Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro, 23890 000 Seropédica, RJ, Brazil

Received 22 June 2015; Revised 20 July 2015; Accepted 4 August 2015

Academic Editor: Stephanie Tjen-A-Looi

Copyright © 2015 Julia Dias Villas-Boas 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

Startle is a fast response elicited by sudden acoustic, tactile, or visual stimuli in a variety of animals and in humans. As the magnitude of startle response can be modulated by external and internal variables, it can be a useful tool to study reaction to stress. Our study evaluated whether acupuncture can change cardiac autonomic modulation (heart rate variability); and behavioural (reactivity) and endocrine (cortisol levels) parameters in response to startle. Brazilian Sport horses were subjected to a model of startle in which an umbrella was abruptly opened near the horse. Before startle, the horses were subjected to a 20-minute session of acupuncture in acupoints GV1, HT7, GV20, and BL52 (ACUP) and in nonpoints (NP) or left undisturbed (CTL). For analysis of the heart rate variability, ultrashort-term (64 s) heart rate series were interpolated (4 Hz) and divided into 256-point segments and the spectra integrated into low (LF; 0.01–0.07 Hz; index of sympathetic modulation) and high (HF; 0.07–0.50 Hz; index of parasympathetic modulation) frequency bands. Acupuncture (ACUP) changed the sympathovagal balance with a shift towards parasympathetic modulation, reducing the prompt startle-induced increase in LF/HF and reducing cortisol levels 30 min after startle. However, acupuncture elicited no changes in behavioural parameters.