Introduction: Oxidative stress is involved in the occurrence and development of multiple diseases. Acupuncture shows an excellent clinical efficacy in practical application but its mechanism remains unclear. This systematic review and meta-analysis was aimed at assessing the effect of acupuncture on oxidative stress in animal models.
Methods: PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science database were retrieved for randomized controlled trials about acupuncture on oxidative stress in animal models from inception to August 2021. Two reviewers independently screened and extracted articles according to inclusion and exclusion criteria. We used the mean difference (MD)/standardized mean difference (SMD) to perform an effect size analysis and selected fixed-effect or random-effect models to pool the data, depending on a 95% confidence interval (CI).
Results: A total of 12 studies comprising 125 samples were included in the quantitative meta-analysis. Compared with sham acupuncture, acupuncture (manual acupuncture, electropuncture, and laser acupuncture) reduced the level of malondialdehyde (SMD, -3.03; CI, -4.40, -1.65; p < 0.00001) and increased the levels of superoxide dismutase (SMD, 3.39; CI, 1.99, 4.79; p < 0.00001), glutathione peroxidase (SMD, 2.21; CI, 1.10, 3.32; p < 0.00001), and catalase (SMD, 2.80; CI, 0.57, 5.03; p = 0.01).
Conclusion: This meta-analysis indicated that acupuncture can regulate oxidative stress by lowering the lipid peroxidation and activating the antioxidant enzyme system. In consideration of heterogeneity between studies, future studies should be performed by complying with strict standards and increasing sample size in animal experiments to reduce bias.