Aim To observe the effects of electroacupuncture (EA) on uterine morphology and expression of oestrogen receptor (ER) α and β in ovariectomised (OVX) rats.
Methods Thirty female Sprague-Dawley rats with regular 4-day oestrus cycles were divided into a sham operation group (Control, n=10) and two OVX groups that remained untreated (OVX group, n=10) or received EA treatment (OVX+EA group, n=10). In the latter group, EA was applied at CV4, CV3, SP6 and bilateral Zigong (30 min per day) for 3 days. The effects of EA on uterine morphology were observed by H&E staining. Quantitative real-time reverse transcription-PCR (qRT-PCR) and Western blotting were used to measure ERα and ERβ mRNA and protein expression, respectively.
Results Relative to the (untreated) OVX group, EA treatment significantly increased the uterine wet weight to body weight (UWW/BW) ratio (0.47±0.04 vs 0.31±0.03 g/kg, p=0.04), and myometrial thickness (109.39±10.71 vs 60.81±8.1 μm, p=0.016) of OVX rats. Similarly, the total number of endometrial glands per cross section and endometrial thickness in the OVX +EA group was significantly increased compared to the (untreated) OVX group. EA treatment also increased protein (but not mRNA) expression of both ERα and ERβ in the uteri of OVX rats.
Conclusions This study has demonstrated that EA treatment decreases uterine atrophy in OVX rats. This unique effect of EA on the uterus may be due to upregulation of serum levels of E2 and differential regulation of sex steroid receptors ERα and ERβ.
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Contributors SM designed the experiment, analysed the data and performed the EA treatment. DL performed the histology and morphometry experiments. YF performed the qRT-PCR and Western blot analysis. JJ performed the animal surgery. BS drafted and revised the manuscript. All authors approved the final version accepted for publication.
Funding This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 81102668 and 81201468).
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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