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Acupuncture holds promise for treating inflammatory disease
Date:2/24/2014

They found that when they removed adrenal glands which produce hormones in the body the electroacpuncture stopped working. That discovery, on its face, presented a big roadblock to use of acupuncture for sepsis in humans, because most human cases of sepsis include sharply reduced adrenal function. In theory, electroacupuncture might still help a minority of patients whose adrenal glands work well, but not many others.

So the researchers dug even deeper to find the specific anatomical changes that occurred when electroacupuncture was performed with functioning adrenal glands. Those changes included increased levels of dopamine, a substance that has important functions within the immune system. But they found that adding dopamine by itself did not curb the inflammation. They then substituted a drug called fenoldopam that mimics some of dopamine's most positive effects, and even without acupuncture they succeeded in reducing sepsis-related deaths by 40 percent.

Ulloa considers the results a double triumph.

On the one hand, he says, this research shows physical evidence of acupuncture's value beyond any that has been demonstrated before. His results show potential benefits, he adds, not just for sepsis, but treating other inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and Crohn's disease.

On the other hand, by also establishing that a drug reduced sepsis deaths in mice, he has provided an innovative roadmap toward developing potential drugs for people. That roadmap may be crucial, because no FDA-approved drug to treat sepsis now exists.

"I don't even know whether in the future the best solution for sepsis will be electroacupuncture or some medicine that will mimic electroacupuncture," Ulloa concludes. The bottom line, he says, is that this research has opened the door to both.


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Contact: Rob Forman
robert.forman@rutgers.edu
973-972-7276
Rutgers University
Source:Eurekalert  

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