PCOS: Acupuncture and Sympathetic Nerve Activity in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Acupuncture PCOS

Acupuncture PCOS

Low-frequency Electro-Acupuncture and Physical Exercise Decrease High Muscle Sympathetic Nerve Activity in Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
Elisabet Stener-Victorin1*, Elizabeth Jedel2, Per Olof Janson, and Yrsa Bergmann Sverrisdottir3

1 Institution of Neuroscience and Physiology
2 Osher Center for Integrative Medicine
3 inst. neuroscience and physiology

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:

Context: We have recently shown that polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is associated with high muscle sympathetic nerve activity. Animal studies support the concept that low-frequency electro-acupuncture (EA) and physical exercise, via stimulation of ergoreceptors and somatic afferents in the muscles, may modulate the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. Objective: The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of these interventions on sympathetic nerve activity in women with PCOS. Design: Randomized controlled trial. Setting: Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gothenburg, Sweden. Outcome Measures and Subjects: Twenty women with PCOS were randomly allocated to one of three groups; low-frequency EA (n=9), physical exercise (n=5) or to an untreated control (n=6) group during 16 weeks. Direct recordings of multiunit efferent postganglionic muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) in a muscle fascicle of the peroneal nerve before and following 16 weeks of treatment. Biometric, hemodynamic, endocrine and metabolic parameters were measured. Results: Low-frequency EA (P = 0.036) and physical exercise (P = 0.030) decreased MSNA burst frequency compared to the untreated control group. Low-frequency EA group reduced sagittal diameter (P = 0.001), while physical exercise group reduced body weight (P = 0.004) and body mass index (BMI) (P = 0.004) as compared to the untreated control group. Sagittal diameter was related to MSNA burst frequency (Rs = 0.58, P < 0.005) in the EA group. No correlation was found for BMI and MSNA in the exercise group. There were no differences between the groups in hemodynamic, endocrine and metabolic variables. Conclusions: For the first time we demonstrate that low-frequency EA and physical exercise lowers high sympathetic nerve activity in women with PCOS. Thus, treatment with low-frequency EA or physical exercise with the aim to reduce MSNA may be of importance for women with PCOS. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol (June 3, 2009). doi:10.1152/ajpregu.00197.2009

Acupuncture in polycystic ovary syndrome: current experimental and clinical evidence.

pcos acupuncture - journal of neuroendocrinology

pcos acupuncture

J Neuroendocrinol. 2008 Mar;20(3):290-8. Epub 2007 Nov 28.
Acupuncture in polycystic ovary syndrome: current experimental and clinical evidence.

Stener-Victorin E, Jedel E, Mannerås L.

Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden.

This review describes the aetiology and pathogenesis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and evaluates the use of acupuncture to prevent and reduce symptoms related with PCOS. PCOS is the most common female endocrine disorder and it is strongly associated with hyperandrogenism, ovulatory dysfunction and obesity. PCOS increases the risk for metabolic disturbances such as hyperinsulinaemia and insulin resistance, which can lead to type 2 diabetes, hypertension and an increased likelihood of developing cardiovascular risk factors and impaired mental health later in life. Despite extensive research, little is known about the aetiology of PCOS. The syndrome is associated with peripheral and central factors that influence sympathetic nerve activity. Thus, the sympathetic nervous system may be an important factor in the development and maintenance of PCOS. Many women with PCOS require prolonged treatment. Current pharmacological approaches are effective but have adverse effects. Therefore, nonpharmacological treatment strategies need to be evaluated. Clearly, acupuncture can affect PCOS via modulation of endogenous regulatory systems, including the sympathetic nervous system, the endocrine and the neuroendocrine system. Experimental observations in rat models of steroid-induced polycystic ovaries and clinical data from studies in women with PCOS suggest that acupuncture exert long-lasting beneficial effects on metabolic and endocrine systems and ovulation.