A rat model of PCOS-like symptoms was established by subcutaneous injection with dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), and then EA treatment at acupoints (ST29 and SP6) was carried out for 5 weeks. To inhibit autophagy in rats, intraperitoneal injection with 0.5 mg/kg 3-MA (an autophagy inhibitor) was performed at 30 min before each EA treatment.
Results: EA intervention alleviated PCOS-like symptoms in rats, which was partly counteracted by the combination with 3-MA. Moreover, DHEA-exposure-induced deficient autophagy in skeletal muscle was improved by EA treatment. EA-mediated improvements in insulin resistance, mitochondrial dysfunction, and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress in PCOS-like rats were counteracted by 3-MA pretreatment. Mechanically, EA attenuated autophagy deficiency-mediated insulin resistance in PCOS-like rats via inactivating mTOR/4E-BP1 signaling pathway.
Conclusions: Taken together, our findings indicate that EA treatment ameliorates insulin resistance, mitochondrial dysfunction, and ER stress through enhancing autophagy in a PCOS-like rat model.