Background: Mild cognitive impairment is a common neurological disorder. Moxibustion has been shown to be effective in treating mild cognitive impairment, but its therapeutic mechanisms still remain unclear. This study mainly aimed to investigate the modulation effect of moxibustion treatment for patients with mild cognitive impairment by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
Methods: A total of 47 patients with mild cognitive impairment and 30 healthy controls (HCs) participated in resting-state fMRI imaging (rs-fMRI) scans. Patients with MCI were randomly divided into true moxibustion group (TRUE, n = 30) and sham moxibustion group (SHAM, n = 17). The degree centrality (DC) approach was applied to distinguish altered brain functions. Correlation analysis was then performed to examine the relationships between the neuroimaging findings and clinical symptoms.
Results: Compared with HCs, patients with mild cognitive impairment mainly showed decreased DC in the left middle frontal cortex (MFC) and bilateral middle cingulate cortex (MCC). After moxibustion treatment, the SHAM group had no significant DC findings, while TRUE group mainly showed significant increased DC in the bilateral MFC and MCC, as well as decreased DC in the left middle occipital cortex (MOC). Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed significant interactions between the two groups of patients with MCI. In addition, the higher Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score was significantly positively correlated with increased DC in the right MFC and left MCC after moxibustion treatment.
Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate that the potential value of moxibustion treatment on mild cognitive impairment, which adds new insights into the popular view that moxibustion treatment may slow cognitive decline in patients with mild cognitive impairment.