Objective: To investigate whether electroacupuncture at bilateral Tianshu (ST 25) and Zusanli (ST 36) acupoints could alleviate stress-induced irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and evaluate its effect on gut microbiota and corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF).
Methods: Thirty C57BL/6 mice were randomly divided into the normal, water avoidance stress (WAS), and WAS+EA groups (10 mice per group). An experimental model of IBS was established by exposing the animals to WAS. The mice were treated with electroacupuncture at the bilateral Tianshu (ST 25) and Zusanli (ST 36) acupoints. The abdominal withdrawal reflex test was conducted to evaluate visceral sensitivity in IBS. Gut microbiota was analyzed using 16S rRNA sequencing and analysis. The expression of CRF was determined using immune-ofluorescence and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction.
Results: electroacupuncture alleviated visceral hypersensitivity in a mouse model of WAS-induced IBS. It modulated the dysbiosis of gut microbiota induced by WAS. Moreover, it suppressed the WAS-induced overexpression of CRF in colon tissues.
Conclusion: The findings of this study suggest that electroacupuncture alleviated WAS-induced IBS mechanisms possibly involving the modulation of the dysbiosis of gut microbiota and suppression of CRF expression.