The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of acupuncture at LR3 and KI3 on hypertension at different time points and on related cerebral regions using resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI).
We randomly divided 29 subjects into two groups: Group A (receiving acupuncture at LR3 + KI3; 15 subjects) and group B (receiving acupuncture at LR3 and a sham location not corresponding to any traditional acupuncture point; 14 subjects). Acupuncture was performed. Blood pressure (BP) changes were recorded and analyzed using SPSS 20.0 statistical software. We used a 3.0T MRI scanner and standard GE 8 channel head coil to collect whole brain fMRI data in both groups. Data analysis and processing was based on the R2009a MATLAB platform. REST 1.8 software was used to analyze the whole brain amplitude of low-frequency fluctuation (ALFF).
After acupuncture, a statistically significant reduction in BP at different time points was observed in group A. In group B, a statistically significant reduction was found only in diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and was not sustained. Acupuncture at LR3 + KI3 specifically affected brain areas involved in BP regulation, as well as those involved in auditory sense, speech, vision, movement and sensation.
Acupuncture at LR3 + KI3 showed positive immediate and long-term effects on BP, particularly systolic blood pressure (SBP). After ALFF analysis, we concluded that LR3 + KI3 activates brain areas related to BP regulation. In addition, after acupuncture at LR3 + KI3, a highly targeted effect was observed in brain areas associated with BP. In addition, extracerebral areas involving vision, motion control, cognition and hearing were activated, which could potentially contribute to the mitigation of hypertensive complications in patients in an advanced stage of the disease.