PLoS One. 2017 Apr 13;12(4):e0175568. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0175568. eCollection 2017.

Enhancement of immune cytokines and splenic CD4+ T cells by electroacupuncture at ST36 acupoint of SD rats.

Abstract

Electroacupuncture at the ST36 acupoint can enhance the body’s immune function. However, the mechanism for this enhancement has not been fully described. Our study was designed to investigate the effect of electroacupuncture on the immune function of Sprague-Dawley (SD) rats. The rats were randomly divided into three groups: a control group, a non-acupoint group (abdominal muscle acupuntured) and a ST36 acupoint group. Our results showed that successive electroacupuncture at the ST36 acupoint for 3 d significantly enhanced the interferon-γ (IFN-γ) level in the serum of SD rats. The results also showed that the serum and extracts from spleen cells of the ST36 acupoint group contained higher levels of interleukin (IL)-2 and IL-17 compared to those of the other two groups. Immunohistochemical analysis showed that electroacupuncture applied to the ST36 acupoint enhanced the expression level of CD4 in spleen cells. Furthermore, it was observed that CD4 co-localized with transient receptor potential vanilloid (TRPV) channels at the membrane of splenic CD4+ T cells and the expression level of CD4 was related to TRPV channels in the electroacupuncture treatment. These observations indicated that electroacupuncture stimulation at the ST36 acupoint enhanced the level of immune cytokines and splenic CD4+ T cells through TRPV channels in this system