Effects of some acupoints (Du-14, Li-11, St-36, and Sp-6) on serum TNF-α and hsCRP levels in healthy young subjects

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KARATAY S., Akcay F., Yildirim K., Erdem F. H., Alp F.

Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol.17, no.4, pp.347-350, 2011 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier


Objectives: This study was performed to investigate the effect of immune-related acupuncture points on serum tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) levels. Methods: Ninety (90) healthy volunteers (aged 20-30 years) were randomly assigned into five equal groups. Acupuncture needles were placed into single acupoints bilaterally in each group. The points were Da Zhui (Du-14), Qu Chi (Li-11), Zu San Li (St-36), San Yin Jiao (Sp-6) and a sham point, which is not an acupoint. Manual acupuncture treatment was performed in 6 sessions of 30 minutes each, 3 times per week for 2 weeks. Serum samples were obtained before and after the acupuncture treatments and the serum TNF-α and hsCRP levels were measured. Results: The TNF-α values (mean±standard deviation) in the Du-14, Li-11, St-36, Sp-6, and sham acupuncture groups at baseline were 37.63±10.58, 37.36±10.24, 33.83±7.36, 35.73±6.75, and 32.05±5.66pg/mL, respectively. After treatment, the mean TNF-α values were 35.89±11.61, 34.80±6.98, 35.89±9.22, 33.30±5.45, and 33.78±5.98pg/mL, respectively. In the serum TNF-α levels, no significant change was seen in any of the groups (p>0.05). The mean hsCRP values in the Du-14, Li-11, St-36, Sp-6, and sham acupuncture groups at baseline were 0.90±0.77, 1.07±1.35, 0.77±0.54, 0.75±0.54, and 0.94±0.68mg/L, respectively. After treatment, they were 1.09±1.17, 0.84±0.43, 0.74±0.49, 0.80±0.53, and 0.62±0.44mg/L, respectively. In the statistical analysis, it was found that hsCRP levels were significantly reduced in the sham acupuncture group (p<0.01). There was not any significant difference between acupuncture and sham groups in terms of serum TNF-α and hsCRP values (p>0.05). Conclusions: Acupoints, which are considered to have effects on the immune system, may not mediate the immune system via TNF-α, a known inflammatory cytokine, directly in healthy young individuals. However, the changes related to hsCRP values in the sham group need future confirmation studies. © 2011, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.