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Acupuncture increases the diameter and reorganisation of collagen fibrils during rat tendon healing
  1. Marcos dos Santos de Almeida1,
  2. Karine Moura de Freitas1,
  3. Letícia Prado Oliveira1,
  4. Cristiano Pedrozo Vieira1,
  5. Flávia Da Ré Guerra2,
  6. Mary Anne Heidi Dolder1,
  7. Edson Rosa Pimentel1
  1. 1Department of Structural and Functional Biology, Institute of Biology, State University of Campinas—UNICAMP, Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil
  2. 2Department of Anatomy, Biomedical Science Institute, Federal University of Alfenas, UNIFAL-MG, Alfenas, Minas Gerais, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to Marcos dos Santos de Almeida, Department of Structural and Functional Biology, Institute of Biology, State University of Campinas—UNICAMP, Campinas, São Paulo 6109, Brazil; marcosfisiobr{at}


Background Our previous study showed that electroacupuncture (EA) increases the concentration and reorganisation of collagen in a rat model of tendon healing. However, the ultrastructure of collagen fibrils after acupuncture is unknown.

Objectives To assess the effect of acupuncture protocols on the ultrastructure of collagen fibrils during tendon healing.

Methods Sixty-four rats were divided into the following groups: non-tenotomised (normal group), tenotomised (teno group), tenotomised and subjected to manual acupuncture at ST36 (ST36 group), BL57 (BL57 group) and ST36+BL57 (SB group) and EA at ST36+BL57 (EA group). The mass-average diameter (MAD) and the reorganisation of collagen fibril diameters were determined during the three phases of tendon healing (at 7, 14 and 21 days).

Results The MAD increased during the three phases of healing in the SB group. In the EA group, MAD increased initially but was reduced at day 21. The reorganisation of collagen fibrils was improved in the EA and SB groups at days 14 and 21, respectively. EA at day 21 appeared to reduce the reorganisation.

Conclusions These results indicate that the use of EA up to day 14 and manual acupuncture at ST36+BL57 up to day 21 improve the ultrastructure of collagen fibrils, indicating strengthening of the tendon structure. These data suggest a potential role for acupuncture in rehabilitation protocols.


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