Electroacupuncture attenuates cognition impairment via anti-neuroinflammation in an Alzheimer's disease animal model.
J Neuroinflammation. 2019 Dec 13 ;16(1):264. Epub 2019 Dec 13. PMID: 31836020
BACKGROUND: Alzheimer's disease (AD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive loss of cognitive abilities and memory leading to dementia. Electroacupuncture (EA) is a complementary alternative medicine approach, applying an electrical current to acupuncture points. In clinical and animal studies, EA causes cognitive improvements in AD and vascular dementia. However, EA-induced changes in cognition and microglia-mediated amyloidβ (Aβ) degradation have not been determined yet in AD animals. Therefore, this study investigated the EA-induced molecular mechanisms causing cognitive improvement and anti-inflammatory activity in five familial mutation (5XFAD) mice, an animal model of AD.
METHODS: 5XFAD mice were bilaterally treated with EA at the Taegye (KI3) acupoints three times per week for 2 weeks. To evaluate the effects of EA treatment on cognitive functions, novel object recognition and Y-maze tests were performed with non-Tg, 5XFAD (Tg), and EA-treated 5XFAD (Tg + KI3) mice. To examine the molecular mechanisms underlying EA effects, western blots, immunohistochemistry, and micro-positron emission tomography scans were performed. Furthermore, we studied synapse ultrastructures with transmission electron microscopy and used electrophysiology to investigate EA effects on synaptic plasticity in 5XFAD mice.
RESULTS: EA treatment significantly improved working memory and synaptic plasticity, alleviated neuroinflammation, and reduced ultrastructural degradation of synapses via upregulation of synaptophysin and postsynaptic density-95 protein in 5XFAD mice. Furthermore, microglia-mediated Aβ deposition was reduced after EA treatment and coincided with a reduction in amyloid precursor protein.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings demonstrate that EA treatment ameliorates cognitive impairment via inhibition of synaptic degeneration and neuroinflammation in a mouse model of AD.