Electroacupuncture at Yintang and Yingxiang improves cognitive function

Objective: To investigate the effects and mechanisms of olfactory three-needle (OTN) electroacupuncture (EA) stimulation of the olfactory system on cognitive dysfunction, synaptic plasticity, and the gut microbiota in senescence-accelerated mouse prone 8 (SAMP8) mice.

Methods: Thirty-six SAMP8 mice were randomly divided into the SAMP8 (P8), SAMP8+olfactory three-needle (P8-OT), and SAMP8+nerve transection+olfactory three-needle (P8-N-OT) groups according to a random number table (n=12 per group), and 12 accelerated senescence-resistant (SAMR1) mice were used as the control (R1) group. Electroacupuncture was performed at the Yintang (GV 29) and bilateral Yingxiang (LI 20) acupoints of SAMP8 mice for 4 weeks. The Morris water maze test, transmission electron microscopy, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL) staining, Nissl staining, Golgi staining, Western blot, and 16S rRNA sequencing were performed, respectively.

Results: Compared with the P8 group, olfactory three-needle improved the cognitive behavior of SAMP8 mice, inhibited neuronal apoptosis, increased neuronal activity, and attenuated hippocampal synaptic dysfunction (P<0.05 or P<0.01). Moreover, the expression levels of synaptic plasticity-related proteins N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor 1 (NMDAR1), NMDAR2B, synaptophysin (SYN), and postsynaptic density protein-95 (PSD95) in hippocampus were increased by olfactory three-needle treatment (P<0.05 or P<0.01). Furthermore, olfactory three-needle greatly enhanced the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)/cAMP-response element binding (CREB) signaling and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B/mammalian target of rapamycin (PI3K/AKT/mTOR) signaling compared with the P8 group (P<0.05 or P<0.01).

However, the neuroprotective effect of olfactory three-needle was attenuated by olfactory nerve truncation. Compared with the P8 group, olfactory three-needle had a very limited effect on the fecal microbial structure and composition of SAMP8 mice, while specifically increased the genera Oscillospira and Sutterella (P<0.05). Interestingly, the P8-N-OT group showed an abnormal fecal microbiota with higher microbial α-diversity, Firmicutes/Bacteroidetes ratio and pathogenic bacteria (P<0.05 or P<0.01).

Conclusions: Olfactory three-needle improved cognitive deficits and hippocampal synaptic plasticity by stimulating the olfactory nerve and activating the BDNF/CREB and PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathways. Although the gut microbiota was not the main therapeutic target of olfactory three-needle for Alzheimer’s disease, the olfactory nerve was essential to maintain the homeostasis of gut microbiota.

Reference: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/37999886/

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About Attilio

Doctor of Chinese medicine, acupuncture expert and author of My Fertility Guide and My Pregnancy Guide.

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