Objective: To observe the efficacy of moxibustion in the treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and explore the effects on gut microbiota and metabolic profiles.
Methods: Forty-eight male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to control group (Con), chronic fatigue syndrome model group (Mod, established by multiple chronic stress for 35 d), MoxA group (chronic fatigue syndrome model with moxibustion Shenque (CV8) and Guanyuan (CV4), 10 min/d, 28 d) and MoxB group (chronic fatigue syndrome model with moxibustion Zusanli (ST36), 10 min/d, 28 d).
Open-field test (OFT) and Morris-water-maze test (MWMT) were determined for assessment the chronic fatigue syndrome model and the therapeutic effects of moxibustion.16S rRNA gene sequencing analysis based gut microbiota integrated untargeted liquid chromatograph-mass spectrometer (LC-MS) based fecal metabolomics were executed, as well as Spearman correlation analysis, was utilized to uncover the functional relevance between the potential metabolites and gut microbiota.
Results: The results of our behavioral tests showed that moxibustion improved the performance of chronic fatigue syndrome rats in the OFT and the MWMT. Microbiome profiling analysis revealed that the gut microbiomes of chronic fatigue syndrome rats were less diverse with altered composition, including increases in pro-inflammatory species (such as Proteobacteria) and decreases in anti-inflammatory species (such as Bacteroides, Lactobacillus, Ruminococcus, and Prevotella). Moxibustion partially normalized these changes in the gut microbiota.
Furthermore, chronic fatigue syndrome was associated with metabolic disorders, which were effectively ameliorated by moxibustion. This was demonstrated by the normalization of 33 microbiota-related metabolites, including mannose (P = 0.001), aspartic acid (P = 0.009), alanine (P = 0.007), serine (P = 0.000), threonine (P = 0.027), methionine (P = 0.023), 5-hydroxytryptamine (P = 0.008), alpha-linolenic acid (P = 0.003), eicosapentaenoic acid (P = 0.006), hypoxanthine (P = 0.000), vitamin B6 (P = 0.000), cholic acid (P = 0.013), and taurocholate (P =0.002). Correlation analysis showed a significant association between the perturbed fecal microbiota and metabolite levels, with a notable negative relationship between LCA and Bacteroides.
Conclusions: In this study, we demonstrated that moxibustion has an antifatigue-like effect. The results from the 16S rRNA gene sequencing and metabolomics analysis suggest that the therapeutic effects of moxibustion on CFS are related to the regulation of gut microorganisms and their metabolites. The increase in Bacteroides and decrease in LCA may be key targets for the moxibustion treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome.