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Effects of electroacupuncture stimulation at different spinal segmental levels in a rat model of diabetes mellitus
  1. Huan-huan Tian1,
  2. Bing-Yan Cao2,
  3. Rui Li1,
  4. Yan-jia Ma1,
  5. Xiao-gang Hu1,
  6. Ning Jia1,
  7. Yue-ying Wang1
  1. 1The School of Acupuncture, Moxibustion, and Tuina, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing, China
  2. 2Department of Qigong and Tuina, Xiyuan Hospital, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing, China
  1. Correspondence to Professor Rui Li, The School of Acupuncture, Moxibustion, and Tuina, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing, China; tingxuezhai{at}


Background Diabetes mellitus (DM) is associated with high morbidity, mortality and economic cost. Studies have shown that acupuncture can improve many symptoms of DM.

Objectives To examine for differences in effects of electroacupuncture (EA) stimulation at Weiwanxiashu, BL15 and BL23 in the streptozotocin (STZ)-induced DM rat model, to help guide clinical selection of acupuncture points.

Methods 90 male rats weighing 160±5 g were used. 12 rats were control fed (Normal group) and 78 were fed a high-fat high-sugar diet for 8 weeks and underwent intraperitoneal STZ injection to model DM. 60 animals that met modelling criteria were randomly divided into an untreated DM group and four groups receiving EA at Weiwanxiashu (DM+WWX group), BL15 (DM+BL15 group), BL23 (DM+BL23 group) or a non-traditional acupuncture point on the tail (DM+Tail group). Fasting blood glucose, total cholesterol (TC), triglyceride (TG), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and insulin levels were determined and an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) performed.

Results EA at Weiwanxiashu had a glucose-lowering effect on the 21st and 28th days, decreased TC, TG and LDL-C levels, increase insulin levels and improved glucose tolerance. EA at BL15 had a glucose-lowering effect on the7th, 14th and 21st days of intervention but did not impact lipids, insulin or OGTT parameters. EA at BL23 or on the tail had no significant effects.

Conclusion EA at Weiwanxiashu and BL15 had differential effects on metabolic markers in the STZ-induced rat model of DM. These effects may be explained neuroanatomically by variations in the segmental innervation of the tissues at these locations.

  • Weiwanxiashu

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  • Contributors HHT performed the literature review. BYC and RL designed the study. Researchers assisting with the experimental work included XGH (immobilised the animals), NJ (located the points), YJM (inserted needles) and YYW (connected the electroacupuncture device). Data collection and analysis were performed by HHT and BYC. All authors read and approved the final version of the manuscript accepted for publication.

  • Funding The study was funded by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China (grant no. 313010).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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