Research: ZENG and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 220


ZENG and COLLEAGUES, (1)Neurodegenerative Disease Research Group, Institute of Pharmaceutical Science, School of Biomedical Sciences, King's College London, London, United Kingdom. review recent  development on the effects and mechanisms of acupuncture on Alzheimer's disease.


Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia diagnosed in the aging population worldwide. The cause of Alzheimer's is still not clear. There is no cure for the disease and current treatments are only symptomatic relieve. The search for new treatment is made ever more urgent due to increasing population aging. Acupuncture has been in practice in China for more than 3000 years and used to treat a wide variety of conditions including cardiovascular and psychiatric diseases, acute, and chronic pain.


In this chapter, we review recent development on the effects and mechanisms of acupuncture on Alzheimer's disease.


In Alzheimer's animal models, acupuncture stimulation at acupoints enhances cholinergic neurotransmission, trophic factor releasing, reduces apoptotic and oxidative damages, improves synaptic plasticity and decreases the levels of Aβ proteins in the hippocampus and relevant brain regions. The biochemical modulations by acupuncture in the brains of Alzheimer's models are correlated with the cognitive improvement. In Alzheimer's patients, functional brain images demonstrated that acupuncture increased in the activity in the temporal lobe and prefrontal lobe which are related to the memory and cognitive function. Although only a few acupuncture clinical studies with a small number of participants are reported, they represent an important step forward in the research of both acupuncture and Alzheimer's.


Translation of acupuncture research in animal model studies into the human subjects will undoubtedly enhance acupuncture efficacy in clinical study and treatment which could eventually lead to a safer, well-tolerated and inexpensive form of care for Alzheimer's patients.


Zeng BY(1), Salvage S, Jenner P. Effect and mechanism of acupuncture on Alzheimer's disease. Int Rev Neurobiol.111:181-95. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-411545-3.00009-2. 2013.

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