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Open Access Research article

Electroacupuncture decreases cognitive impairment and promotes neurogenesis in the APP/PS1 transgenic mice

Xuying Li1, Fan Guo1, Qiaomei Zhang1, Tingting Huo1, Lixin Liu2, Haidong Wei1, Lize Xiong1* and Qiang Wang1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Anesthesiology, Xijing Hospital, The Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an 710032, Shaanxi Province, China

2 Department of Anesthesiology, Stony Brook University School of Medicine, HSC L4 060, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:37  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-37

Published: 22 January 2014

Abstract

Background

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a severe neurodegenerative disease for which there is currently no effective treatment. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether repeated electroacupuncture (EA) stimulation would improve cognitive function and the pathological features of AD in amyloid precursor protein (APP)/presenilin 1 (PS1) double transgenic mice.

Methods

Cognitive function of APP/PS1 double transgenic mice was assessed using the Morris water maze test before and after EA treatment. Levels of amyloid β-peptide (Aβ) deposits in the hippocampus and cortex were evaluated by immunofluorescence, western blot and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) was also examined by immunofluorescence and western blot. The neurogenesis was labeled by the DNA marker bromodeoxyuridine.

Results

EA stimulation significantly ameliorated the learning and memory deficits of AD mice by shortening escape latency and increasing the time spent in the target zone during the probe test. Additionally, decreased Aβ deposits and increased BDNF expression and neurogenesis in the hippocampus and cortex of EA-treated AD mice were detected. The same change was detected in wild-type mice after EA treatment compared with wild-type mice without EA treatment.

Conclusions

Repeated EA stimulation may improve cognitive function, attenuate Aβ deposits, up-regulate the expression of BDNF and promote neurogenesis in the APP/PS1 double transgenic mice. This suggests that EA may be a promising treatment for AD.

Keywords:
Alzheimer’s disease; Electroacupuncture; Neurogenesis; BDNF; Aβ deposits