Background Bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMSCs) and acupuncture are known to mitigate tissue damage. This study aimed to investigate the therapeutic effects of combined electroacupuncture (EA) stimulation and BMSC injection in a rat model of anal sphincter injury-induced faecal incontinence (FI).
Methods 60 Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into five groups: sham-operated control, FI, FI+EA, FI+BMSC, and FI+BMSC+EA. The anorectal tissues were collected on days 1, 3, 7 and 14. Repair of the injured anal sphincter was compared using haematoxylin and eosin (HE) and immunocytochemiscal analyses with sarcomeric α actinin. The expression of stromal cell derived factor-1 (SDF-1) and monocyte chemoattractant protein-3 (MCP-3) was detected by quantitative reverse transcription PCR to evaluate the effects of EA on the homing of BMSCs.
Results The therapeutic effect of combined EA+BMSCs on damaged tissue was the strongest among all the groups as indicated by HE and immunohistochemical staining. The expression of SDF-1 and MCP-3 was significantly increased by combined EA and BMSC treatment when compared with the other groups (P=0.01 to P<0.05), suggesting promotive effects of EA on the homing of BMSCs.
Conclusion The combination of EA and BMSC transplantation effectively repaired the impaired anal sphincters. The underlying mechanism might be associated with apparent promotive effects of EA on the homing of BMSCs. Our study provides a theoretical basis for the development of a non-surgical treatment method for FI secondary to muscle impairment.
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