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To observe the effect of electroacupuncture (EA) at "Zusanli"(ST36) on the expression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), tumor necrosis factor α(TNF-α) transfer growth factor α(TGF-α), interleukin-8(IL-8), p38 mitogen-activated protein kinases (p38MAPK), mucin-5AC (MUC5AC) and other related factors in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) rats, so as to reveal its underlying mechanisms in improving COPD. A total of thirty male SD rats were randomly divided into normal control, model and EA groups, with 10 rats in each group. The COPD model was replicated using a combined method of tracheal infusion of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and forced smoke-inhaling. EA (1-3 mA, 4 Hz/20 Hz) was applied to bilateral ST36 for 30 min, once daily for two consecutive weeks. The lung ventilation activities including the forced vital capacity (FVC) and forced expiratory volume (FEV) at 0.1 and 0.3 s (FEV0.1, FEV0.3) were detected. Histopathological changes of the middle lobe and bronchus of the right lung were observed after H.E. staining. The contents of TGF-α, TNF-α and IL-8 in the serum, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and superior lobe of the right lung were assayed by using ELISA, and the expression levels of EGFR, p38MAPK and MUC5AC proteins (inferior lobe of the left lung) and mRNAs (inferior lobe of the right lung) detected using Western blot, immunohistochemistry (strept avidin-biotin complex, SABC method) and real-time quantitative PCR, respectively. Compared with the normal group, the FVC, FEV0.1, FEV0.3, FEV0.1/FVC and FEV0.3/FVC levels were significantly decreased (P<0.01), while the contents of TNF-α, TGF-α and IL-8 in the serum, BALF and lung tissues, expression levels of EGFR, p38MAPK and MUC5AC mRNAs and proteins, and the immunoactivity of EGFR, p38MAPK and MUC5AC in the lung tissues were significantly increased in the model group (P<0.01). After EA intervention, the decreased levels of the FVC, FEV0.1, FEV0.3, FEV0.1/FVC and FEV0.3/FVC, and the increased levels of the abovementioned genes and proteins were all reversed in the EA group (P<0.01, P<0.05). After modeling, the bronchial walls were thickened, with enlarged alveolar cavities, fractured alveolar walls, obvious inflammatory cell infiltration, and rich mucus secretion in the lumen, which was relatively milder in the EA group. EA of ST36 can improve the ventilation function in COPD rats, which may be associated with its function in down-regulating the levels of TNF-α, TGF-α, IL-8, EGFR, p38MAPK and MUC5AC mRNAs and proteins in the lung tissues, inhibiting EGFR-p38MAPK signaling mediated expression of MUC5AC.


Xian-Gang Lin, Wei Li, Shui-Ying Xiang, Sheng-Bing Wu, Xin-Fang Zhang, Chuan-Wei Jiang, Zi-Bing Liu, Ye-Nong Chen. Electroacupuncture improves lung function by suppressing mucin-5AC mediated EGFR-p38MAPK signaling and inflammation reaction in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease rats]. Zhen ci yan jiu = Acupuncture research. 2021 Mar 25;46(3):180-6

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PMID: 33798289

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