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Electrical and manual acupuncture stimulation affect oestrous cyclicity and neuroendocrine function in an 5α-dihydrotestosterone-induced rat polycystic ovary syndrome model.

Journal article
Authors Yi Feng
Julia Johansson
Louise Mannerås Holm
Linus Ruijin Shao
Håkan Billig
Elisabet Stener-Victorin
Published in Experimental physiology
Volume 97
Issue 5
Pages 651-62
ISSN 1469-445X
Publication year 2012
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Physiology
Pages 651-62
Language en
Subject categories Physiology


Both low-frequency electro-acupuncture (EA) and manual acupuncture improve menstrual frequency and decrease circulating androgens in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). We sought to determine whether low-frequency EA is more effective than manual stimulation in regulating disturbed oestrous cyclicity in rats with PCOS induced by 5α-dihydrotestosterone. To identify the central mechanisms of the effects of stimulation, we assessed hypothalamic mRNA expression of molecules that regulate reproductive and neuroendocrine function. From age 70 days, rats received 2 Hz EA or manual stimulation with the needles five times per week for 4-5 weeks; untreated rats served as control animals. Specific hypothalamic nuclei were obtained by laser microdissection, and mRNA expression was measured with TaqMan low-density arrays. Untreated rats were acyclic. During the last 2 weeks of treatment, seven of eight (88%) rats in the EA group had epithelial keratinocytes, demonstrating oestrous cycle change (P = 0.034 versus control rats). In the manual group, five of eight (62%) rats had oestrous cycle changes (n.s. versus control animals). The mRNA expression of the opioid receptors Oprk1 and Oprm1 in the hypothalamic arcuate nucleus was lower in the EA group than in untreated control rats. The mRNA expression of the steroid hormone receptors Esr2, Pgr and Kiss1r was lower in the manual group than in the control animals. In rats with 5α-dihydrotestosterone-induced PCOS, low-frequency EA restored disturbed oestrous cyclicity but did not differ from the manual stimulation group, although electrical stimulation lowered serum testosterone in responders, those with restored oestrus cyclicity, and differed from both control animals and the manual stimulation group. Thus, EA cannot in all aspects be considered superior to manual stimulation. The effects of low-frequency EA may be mediated by central opioid receptors, while manual stimulation may involve regulation of steroid hormone/peptide receptors.

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