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Study finds acupuncture modulates inflammation in mice

Source: Ekaterina Pesheva, HMS Communications, The Harvard Gazette, August 12, 2020

A team of researchers led by neuroscientists at Harvard Medical School has successfully used acupuncture to tame systemic inflammation in mice.

In the study, published Aug. 12 in Neuron, acupuncture activated different signaling pathways that triggered either a pro-inflammatory or an anti-inflammatory response in animals with bacterially induced systemic inflammation.

Further, the team found that three factors determined how acupuncture affected response: site, intensity and timing of treatment. Where in the body the stimulation occurred, how strong it was and when the stimulation was administered yielded dramatically different effects on inflammatory markers and survival.

This represents a critical step toward defining the neuroanatomical mechanisms underlying acupuncture and offers a roadmap for harnessing the approach for the treatment of inflammatory diseases.

The scientists caution, however, that before any therapeutic use, the observations must be confirmed in further research — in animals as well as in humans — and the optimal parameters for acupuncture stimulation must be carefully defined.

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