This article is from over a year ago, but it nonetheless made it to my inbox today.  It has a number of specific biological responses to needling from skin to brain, so a good summary.  Full journal text free here

Abstract

Recent studies have been conducted to examine the neuroprotective effects of acupuncture in many neurological disorders. Although the neuroprotective effects of acupuncture has been linked to changes in signaling pathways, accumulating evidence suggest the participation of endogenous biological mediators, such as the neurotrophin (NT) family of proteins, specifically, the brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Accordingly, acupuncture can inhibit neurodegeneration via expression and activation of BDNF. Moreover, recent studies have reported that acupuncture can increase ATP levels at local stimulated points. We have also demonstrated that acupuncture could activate monocytes and increase the expression of BDNF via the stimulation of ATP. The purpose of this article is to review the recent findings and ongoing studies on the neuroprotective roles of acupuncture and therapeutic implications of acupuncture-induced activation of BDNF and its signaling pathway.

BDNF pathways

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