Relationship Between Blood Radioimmunoreactive Beta-Endorphin and Hand Skin Temperature During The Electro-Acupuncture Induction of Ovulation

By Chen Bo Ying M.D. Lecturer of Neurobiology
Institute of Acupuncture Research, and Yu Jin, MD., Prof of Gynecology Obstetricus and Gynecology Hospital Shanghai Medical University Shanghai, People’s Republic of China


Thirteen cycles of anovulation menstruation in 11 cases were treated with Electro-Acupuncture (EA) ovulation induction. In 6 of these cycles which showed ovulation, the hand skin temperature (HST) of these patients was increased after EA treatment. In the other 7 cycles ovulation was not induced. There were no regular changes in HST of 5 normal subjects. The level of radioimmunoreactive beta-endorphin (rß-E) fluctuated, and returned to the preacupunctural level in 30 min. after withdrawal of needles in normal subjects. After EA, the level of blood rß-E in cycles with ovulation declined or maintained the range of normal subjects. But the level of blood rß-E and increase of HST after EA (r=-0.677, P <0.01). EA is able to regulate the function of the hypothalamic pituitary-ovarian axis. Since a good response is usually accompanied with the increase of HST, monitoring HST may provide a rough but simple method for prediciting the curative effect of EA. The role of rß-E in the mechanism of EA ovulation induction was discussed.

KEYWORDS: Electro-Acupuncture (EA), Hand Skin Temperature (HST), radioimmunoreactive beta-endorphin (rß-E), ovulation, radioimmunoassay (RIA).
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Effect of electro-acupuncture on ovarian expression of alpha (1)- and beta (2)-adrenoceptors, and p75 neurotrophin receptors in rats with steroid-induced polycystic ovaries.
Manni L, Lundeberg T, Holmang A, Aloe L, Stener-Victorin E.

Cardiovascular Institute and Wallenberg Laboratory, Sahlgrenska Academy, Goteborg University, SE-413 45 Goteborg, Sweden.

BACKGROUND: Estradiol valerate (EV)-induced polycystic ovaries (PCO) in rats is associated with an increase in ovarian sympathetic outflow. Low-frequency (2 Hz) electro-acupuncture (EA) has been shown to modulate sympathetic markers as well as ovarian blood flow as a reflex response via the ovarian sympathetic nerves, in rats with EV-induced PCO. METHODS: In the present study, we further tested the hypothesis that repeated 2 Hz EA treatments modulate ovarian sympathetic outflow in rats with PCO, induced by a single i.m. injection of EV, by investigating the mRNA expression, the amount and distribution of proteins of alpha1a-, alpha1b-, alpha1d-, and beta2-adrenoceptors (ARs), as well as the low-affinity neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR). RESULTS: It was found that EV injection results in significantly higher mRNA expression of ovarian alpha1b- and alpha1d-AR in PCO rats compared to control rats. The p75NTR and beta2-ARs mRNA expression were unchanged in the PCO ovary. Low-frequency EA resulted in a significantly lower expression of beta2-ARs mRNA expression in PCO rats. The p75NTR mRNA was unaffected in both PCO and control rats. PCO ovaries displayed significantly higher amount of protein of alpha1a-, alpha1b- and alpha1d-ARs, and of p75NTR, compared to control rats, that were all counteracted by repeated low-frequency EA treatments, except for alpha1b-AR. CONCLUSION: The present study shows that EA normalizes most of the EV-induced changes in ovarian ARs. Furthermore, EA was able to prevent the EV-induced up regulation of p75NTR, probably by normalizing the sympathetic ovarian response to NGF action. Our data indicate a possible role of EA in the regulation of ovarian responsiveness to sympathetic inputs and depict a possible complementary therapeutic approach to overcoming sympathetic-related anovulation in women with PCOS.

Electro-acupuncture reverses nerve growth factor abundance in experimental polycystic ovaries in the rat.

Bai YH, Lim SC, Song CH, Bae CS, Jin CS, Choi BC, Jang CH, Lee SH, Pak SC.

Research Division of Biological Science, Chosun University Medical School, Gwangju, Korea.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) remains one of the most common causes of anovulation in women of reproductive age. There is some evidence that nerve growth factor (NGF) is involved in the pathogenesis of PCOS. Therefore, seeking the pathogenesis of PCOS is important for controlling fertility. In traditional Oriental Medicine, acupuncture has been used for the function of ovaries. The present study was designed to determine whether electro-acupuncture (EA) could affect experimentally induced polycystic ovary (PCO) in the rat. The two acupoints Sp-6 and E-128 were stimulated to test for efficacy in the protein expression of NGF. Polycystic ovaries were induced by a single injection of estradiol valerate (4 mg i.m.). During the experimental period of 8 weeks, some of the rats were treated with EA twice weekly; this group was compared with a vehicle-treated control group and an estradiol-injected group not subjected to EA. At day 60, the protein expression of NGF was examined by immunohistochemistry in the ovaries, the adrenal glands and some parts of the brain. The estradiol treatment induced a clear PCO appearance, and was associated with a robust increase in NGF expression in the ovaries, the adrenal glands and the brain. EA treatment partly reversed the NGF abundance, particularly in the ovaries, but not in the brain. Our data show that EA affects the NGF involvement in ovarian dysfunction. Copyright 2004 S. Karger AG, Basel

Effects of electro-acupuncture on anovulation in women with polycystic ovary syndrome.
Stener-Victorin E, Waldenstrom U, Tagnfors U, Lundeberg T, Lindstedt G, Janson PO.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Goteborg University, Sweden.

BACKGROUND: The present study was designed to evaluate if electro-acupuncture (EA) could affect oligo-/anovulation and related endocrine and neuroendocrine parameters in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). METHODS: Twenty-four women (between the ages of 24 and 40 years) with PCOS and oligo-/amenorrhea were included in this non-randomized, longitudinal, prospective study. The study period was defined as the period extending from 3 months before the first EA treatment, to 3 months after the last EA treatment (10-14 treatments), in total 8-9 months. The menstrual and ovulation patterns were confirmed by recording of vaginal bleedings and by daily registrations of the basal body temperature (BBT). Blood samples were collected within a week before the first EA, within a week after the last EA and 3 months after EA. RESULTS: Nine women (38%) experienced a good effect. They displayed a mean of 0.66 ovulations/woman and month in the period during and after the EA period compared to a mean of 0.15 before the EA period (p=0.004). Before EA, women with a good effect had a significantly lower body-mass index (BMI) (p<0.001), waist-to-hip circumference ratio (WHR) (p=0.0058), serum testosterone concentration (p=0.0098), serum testosterone/sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) ratio (p=0.011) and serum basal insulin concentration (p=0.0054), and a significantly higher concentration of serum SHBG (p=0.040) than did those women with no effect. CONCLUSION: Repeated EA treatments induce regular ovulations in more than one third of the women with PCOS. The group of women with good effect had a less androgenic hormonal profile before treatment and a less pronounced metabolic disturbance compared with the group with no effect. For this selected group EA offers an alternative to pharmacological ovulation induction.

Acupuncture normalizes dysfunction of hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis.

Chen BY.

Institute of Acupuncture, Shanghai Medical University, P.R. China.

This article summarizes the studies of the mechanism of electroacupuncture (EA) in the regulation of the abnormal function of hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis (HPOA) in our laboratory. Clinical observation showed that EA with the effective acupoints could cure some anovulatory patients in a highly effective rate and the experimental results suggested that EA might regulate the dysfunction of HPOA in several ways, which means EA could influence some gene expression of brain, thereby, normalizing secretion of some hormones, such as GnRH, LH and E2. The effects of EA might possess a relative specificity on acupoints.

Acupunct Electrother Res. 1997;22(2):97-108.

Clinical observation on treatment of 43 women with polycystic ovary syndrome based on syndrome differentiation

[Article in Chinese]

Jia LN, Wang XJ.

Department of Gynecology of Integrative Medicine, Huashan Hospital, Fudan University, Shanghai 200040, China.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the therapeutic effect of treatment based on syndrome differentiation and its influence on the serum levels of testosterone and insulin in women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). METHODS: Forty-three women, diagnosed with PCOS as well as syndrome of kidney yin deficiency or syndrome of spleen qi deficiency, were enrolled in the study. Twenty-five PCOS women with syndrome of kidney yin deficiency were treated with traditional Chinese herbs for nourishing yin to reduce fire (nourishing yin group), and 18 PCOS women with syndrome of spleen qi deficiency were treated with herbs for invigorating spleen and replenishing qi (replenishing qi group). Body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio (WHR), waist circumference (WC), and the serum levels of insulin and testosterone before and after treatment were detected. RESULTS: Among the 43 cases, 20 cases had high serum testosterone level, in which 13 cases with syndrome of kidney yin deficiency, 7 cases with syndrome of spleen qi deficiency, but the difference had no statistic significance; 17 cases had high serum insulin level, in which 11 cases with syndrome of spleen qi deficiency, 6 cases with syndrome of kidney yin deficiency, the difference had statistic significance (P<0.05). In nourishing yin group, the serum levels of insulin and testosterone declined after treatment (P<0.05), and BMI, WHR and WC showed no significant changes. In replenishing qi group, the serum level of insulin declined after treatment (P<0.01), and BMI, WHR, WC and the serum level of testosterone showed no significant changes. CONCLUSION: Traditional Chinese herbs for nourishing yin to reduce fire can significantly reduce the serum levels of testosterone and insulin in PCOS women with syndrome of kidney yin deficiency, and herbs for invigorating spleen and replenishing qi can significantly reduce the serum level of insulin in PCOS women with syndrome of spleen qi deficiency. Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao. 2006 Nov;4(6):585-8.

Acupunct Med. 2006 Dec;24(4):157-63.

Use of acupuncture in female infertility and a summary of recent acupuncture studies related to embryo transfer.

Stener-Victorin E, Humaidan P.

Institute of Neuroscience and Physiolopgy, Sahlgrenska Academy, Goteborg University, Sweden.

During the last five years the use of acupuncture in female infertility as an adjuvant to conventional treatment in assisted reproductive technology (ART) has increased in popularity. The present paper briefly discusses clinical and experimental data on the effect of acupuncture on uterine and ovarian blood flow, as an analgesic method during ART, and on endocrine and metabolic disturbances such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Further it gives a summary of recent studies evaluating the effect of acupuncture before and after embryo transfer on pregnancy outcome. Of the four published RCTs, three reveal significantly higher pregnancy rates in the acupuncture groups compared with the control groups. But the use of different study protocols makes it difficult to draw definitive conclusions. It seems, however, that acupuncture has a positive effect and no adverse effects on pregnancy outcome.


Effects of Electro-Acupuncture on Nerve Growth Factor and Ovarian Morphology in Rats with Experimentally Induced Polycystic Ovaries


Elisabet Stener-Victorin

2,a, Thomas Lundebergb, Urban Waldenströma, Luigi Mannic, Luigi Aloec, Stefan Gunnarssond, and Per Olof Jansona

a Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Göteborg University, SE-413 45 Göteborg, Sweden b Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Karolinska Institutet, SE-164 01 Stockholm, Sweden c Institute of Neurobiology (CNR), Rome, Italy d Department of Evolutionary Biology, SE-752 36 Uppsala, Sweden


Despite extensive research on the pathogenesis of polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), there is still disagreement on the underlying mechanisms. The rat model for experimentally induced polycystic ovaries (PCO)—produced by a single injection of estradiol valerate—has similarities with human PCOS, and both are associated with hyperactivity in the sympathetic nervous system. Nerve growth factor (NGF) is known to serve as a neurotrophin for both the sympathetic and the sensory nervous systems and to enhance the activity of catecholaminergic and possibly other neuron types. Electro-acupuncture (EA) is known to reduce hyperactivity in the sympathetic nervous system. For these reasons, the model was used in the present study to investigate the effects of EA (12 treatments, approximately 25 min each, over 30 days) by analyzing NGF in the central nervous system and the endocrine organs, including the ovaries. The main findings in the present study were first, that significantly higher concentrations of NGF were found in the ovaries and the adrenal glands in the rats in the PCO model than in the control rats that were only injected with the vehicle (oil or NaCl). Second, that repeated EA treatments in PCO rats resulted in concentrations of NGF in the ovaries that were significantly lower than those in non-EA-treated PCO rats but were within a normal range that did not differ from those in the untreated oil and NaCl control groups. The results in the present study provide support for the theory that EA inhibits hyperactivity in the sympathetic nervous system.

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