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15 Hz electroacupuncture at ST36 improves insulin sensitivity and reduces free fatty acid levels in rats with chronic dexamethasone-induced insulin resistance
  1. Chung-Yuh Tzeng1,2,3,
  2. Yu-Chen Lee4,
  3. Jui-Jung Chung5,
  4. Jen-Chieh Tsai6,
  5. Ying-I Chen6,
  6. Tai-Hao Hsu7,
  7. Jaung-Geng Lin8,
  8. Kuan-Rong Lee2,
  9. Shih-Liang Chang6,8
  1. 1Department of Orthopedics, Taichung Veterans General Hospital, Taichung City, Taiwan
  2. 2Institute of Molecular Medicine, College of Life Science, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu City, Taiwan
  3. 3Department of Nursing, Hung-Kuang University, Taichung city, Taiwan
  4. 4Department of Acupuncture, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung City, Taiwan
  5. 5Department of Pharmacy, Cheng-Ching Hospital, Taichung City, Taiwan
  6. 6Department of Medicinal Botanicals and Health Applications, Da-Yeh University, Changhua County, Taiwan
  7. 7Department of BioIndustry Technology, Da-Yeh University, Changhua County, Taiwan
  8. 8School of Chinese Medicine, China Medical University, Taichung City, Taiwan
  1. Correspondence to Professor Kuan-Rong Lee, Institute of Molecular Medicine, National Tsing Hua University; krlee{at} and Professor Shih-Liang Chang, Department of Medicinal Botanicals and Health Applications, Da-Yeh University, No. 168, University Road, Dacun, Changhua County 51591, Taiwan; slchang{at}


Objective To evaluate the effect of electroacupuncture (EA) in a rat model of chronic steroid-induced insulin resistance (SIIR).

Methods An SIIR rat model was created using daily intraperitoneal injections of clinically relevant doses of dexamethasone (1 mg/kg) for 5 days to induce chronic insulin resistance. Thirty-six SIIR rats were randomly divided into the SIIR+EA group (n=18), which received 15 Hz EA at ST36 for 60 min, and the SIIR group (n=18), which remained untreated. Plasma glucose and free fatty acid (FFA) levels were measured in serial blood samples taken without further manipulation (n=6 per group) and during insulin challenge test (ICT, n=6 per group) and intravenous glucose tolerance test (ivGTT, n=6 per group). Insulin receptor substrate (IRS)-1 and glucose transporter (GLUT)-4 were measured using Western blotting and expressed relative to β-actin.

Results Following EA, area-under-the-curve (AUC) for glucose was reduced (7340±291 vs 10 705±1474 mg/dL/min, p=0.049) and FFA levels significantly lower at 30/60 min in the SIIR+EA versus SIIR groups. Similar effects on glucose AUC were seen during the ICT (5568±275 vs 7136±594 mg/dL/min, p<0.05) and igVTT (11 498±1398 vs 16 652±1217 mg/dL/min, p<0.01). FFA levels were lower at 30 and/or 60 min in SIIR+EA versus SIIR groups (p<0.01). Relative expression of IRS-1 and GLUT4 were significantly increased by EA (p<0.01).

Conclusions EA decreased the FFA level and increased insulin sensitivity in SIIR rats. Further clinical studies are needed to determine whether EA is an effective alternative treatment for the reduction of insulin resistance in patients requiring chronic use of dexamethasone.


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