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The ameliorating effects of long-term electroacupuncture on cardiovascular remodeling in spontaneously hypertensive rats

Ze-Jun Huo123, Quan Li2, Gui-Hua Tian23, Chang-Man Zhou4, Xiao-Hong Wei2, Chun-Shui Pan2, Lei Yang4, Yan Bai5, You-Yi Zhang5, Ke He2, Chuan-She Wang26, Zhi-Gang Li3* and Jing-Yan Han26*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing, China

2 Tasly Microcirculation Research Center, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing, China

3 School of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, 11 Bei San Huan Dong Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100029, People’s Republic of China

4 Department of Anatomy, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Peking University, Beijing, China

5 Institute of Vascular Medicine, Peking University Third Hospital and Key Laboratory of Molecular Cardiovascular Science, Chinese Ministry of Education, Beijing, China

6 Department of Integration of Chinese and Western Medicine, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Peking University, 38 Xueyuan Road, Beijing 100191, People’s Republic of China

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:118  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-118

Published: 1 April 2014



The purpose of this study was to investigate the inhibitory effects of long-term electroacupuncture at BaiHui (DU20) and ZuSanLi (ST36) on cardiovascular remodeling in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR) and underlying mechanisms.


6-weeks-old SHR or Wistar male rats were randomly, divided into 6 groups: the control group (SHR/Wistar), the non-acupoint electroacupuncture stimulation group (SHR-NAP/Wistar-NAP) and the electroacupuncture stimulation at DU20 and ST36 group (SHR-AP/Wistar-AP), 24 rats in each group. Rats were treated with or without electroacupuncture at DU20 and ST36, once every other day for a period of 8 weeks. The mean arterial pressure (MAP) was measured once every 2 weeks. By the end of the 8th week, the left ventricular structure and function were assessed by echocardiography. The content of angiotensin II (Ang II), endothelin-1 (ET-1) and nitric oxide (NO) in the plasma was determined using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Histological studies on the heart and the ascending aorta were performed. The expression of angiotensin II type 1 receptor (AT1R), endothelin-1 type A receptor (ETAR), eNOS and iNOS in rat myocardium and ascending aorta was investigated by Western blotting.


The MAP in SHR increased linearly over the observation period and significantly reduced following electroacupuncture as compared with sham control SHR rats, while no difference in MAP was observed in Wistar rats between electroacupuncture and sham control. The aortic wall thickness, cardiac hypertrophy and increased collagen level in SHR were attenuated by long term electroacupuncture. The content of Ang II, ET-1 in the plasma decreased, but the content of NO increased after electroacupuncture stimulation in SHR. Long term electroacupuncture significantly inhibited the expression of AT1R, ETAR and iNOS, whereas increased eNOS expression, in myocardium and ascending aorta of SHR.


The long term electroacupuncture stimulation at DU20 and ST36 relieves the increased MAP and cardiovascular abnormality in both structure and function in SHR, this beneficial action is most likely mediated via modulation of AT1R-AT1R-ET-1-ETAR and NOS/NO pathway.

Cardiac hypertrophy; Electroacupuncture; Angiotensin II type 1 receptor; Endothelin-1; Endothelin-1 type A receptor; NO