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Autonomic nervous system activation mediates the increase in whole-body glucose uptake in response to electroacupuncture

Journal article
Authors Anna Benrick
Milana Kokosar
Min Hu
Mårten Larsson
M. Maliqueo
R. R. Marcondes
M. Soligo
V. Protto
Elisabeth Jerlhag
Antonina Sazonova
Carl Johan Behre
K. Hojlund
P. Thoren
E. Stener-Victorin
Published in Faseb Journal
Volume 31
Issue 8
Pages 3288-3297
ISSN 0892-6638
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Physiology
Institute of Medicine
Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Pharmacology
Institute of Clinical Sciences, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Pages 3288-3297
Language en
Links 10.1096/fj.201601381R
Keywords glucose homeostasis, polycystic ovary syndrome, insulin resistance, muscle contraction, polycystic-ovary-syndrome, blood-flow responses, insulin sensitivity, anesthetized rats, growth-factor, electrical-stimulation, different, frequencies, diabetic-rats, acupuncture, resistance, fronzo ra, 1979, american journal of physiology, v237, pe214, brizchi r, 1990, british journal of pharmacology, v101, p358
Subject categories Internal medicine


A single bout of low-frequency electroacupuncture (EA) causing muscle contractions increases whole-body glucose uptake in insulin-resistant rats. We explored the underlying mechanism of this finding and whether it can be translated into clinical settings. Changes in glucose infusion rate (GIR) were measured by euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp during and after 45 min of low-frequency EA in 21 overweight/obese women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and 21 controls matched for age, weight, and body mass index (experiment 1) and in rats receiving autonomic receptor blockers (experiment 2). GIR was higher after EA in controls and women with PCOS. Plasma serotonin levels and homovanillic acid, markers of vagal activity, decreased in both controls and patients with PCOS. Adipose tissue expression of pro-nerve growth factor (proNGF) decreased, and the mature NGF/proNGF ratio increased after EA in PCOS, but not in controls, suggesting increased sympathetic-driven adipose tissue metabolism. Administration of alpha-/beta-adrenergic receptor blockers in rats blocked the increase in GIR in response to EA. Muscarinic and dopamine receptor antagonist also blocked the response but with slower onset. In conclusion, a single bout of EA increases whole-body glucose uptake by activation of the sympathetic and partly the parasympathetic nervous systems, which could have important clinical implications for the treatment of insulin resistance.

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