The authors conclude that this gives some theoretical basis for using acupuncture for cerebral injury in children.  I wonder if it could also give some theoretical basis for use in clinically depressed patients.  In this article from the NYTimes discussing Prozac, Serotonin and the mechanisms behind using SSRI’s in depression, they make the point that there may be some neuronal death involved in depression also. So maybe there is a case for acupuncture here also?  It is a long, but very interesting article, if you’re interested in depression and anti-depressants. The journal article on animals follows.

“Could there be a connection between emotion and neuronal birth in the hippocampus?”

“In 2011, Hen and his colleagues repeated these studies with depressed primates. In monkeys, chronic stress produces a syndrome with symptoms remarkably similar to some forms of human depression. Even more strikingly than mice, stressed monkeys lose interest in pleasure and become lethargic. When Hen measured neuron birth in the hippocampi in depressed monkeys, it was low. When he gave the monkeys antidepressants, the depressed symptoms abated and neuron birth resumed. Blocking the growth of nerve cells made Prozac ineffective.”
Neurol Sci. 2011 Jun;32(3):369-74. Epub 2010 Sep 18.
Electroacupuncture enhances cell proliferation and neuronal differentiation in young rat brains.
Gao J, Wang S, Wang X, Zhu C.
Department of Pediatrics, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, Kangfuqain Street 7, Zhengzhou 450052, China.
To investigate the effect of electroacupuncture on cell proliferation and differentiation in young rat hippocampus, postnatal day-14 rats were assigned randomly to control, ketamine anesthesia, nonacupoint, or acupoint electroacupuncture groups. Electroacupuncture was applied at bilateral acupoints (Quchi, Waiguan, Huantiao, and Zusanli) 30 min daily for 7 successive days. The proliferation and neuronal differentiation of proliferated surviving cells in the dentate gyrus were evaluated at 4 weeks after last stimulation. The stimulatory effect of electroacupuncture on cell proliferation had a long-lasting effect, as indicated by the increased phosphor-histone H3-positive cells. The number of proliferated and survival cells, indicated by BrdU labeling, was highest in the electroacupuncture group. The number of newly differentiated neurons, as indicated by BrdU/NeuN double labeling, was significantly higher in the electroacupuncture group than in any of the other groups. This finding provides a theoretical basis for the clinical application of acupuncture to cerebral injury rehabilitation in children.