Neuropathic intestinal disorders continue to pose a significant burden, and current treatment options do not target the underlying cellular deficiencies. The goal of this study is to determine whether acupuncture and electroacupuncture (EA) can affect the growth of neuronal cells. Three groups of Lewis rats received 25 minutes of acupuncture twice a week for 10 weeks. The 3 groups of rats received treatment with either sham acupuncture (SA), real acupuncture (RA), or EA. After 10 weeks of treatment, skin and intestinal tissue were collected and analyzed for histology and mRNA expression of neuronal marker genes. Compared with rats that received SA, rats that received RA and EA showed a significant increase in the mRNA expression levels of multiple neuronal genes in the skin. No significant histologic changes were seen. Acupuncture and EA result in significant changes in the expression of genes implicated as markers for neural stem cells, neural cell development, and neurons. This may, therefore, provide a novel avenue for developing treatments in patients suffering from intestinal aganglionic and neuropathic diseases.Copyright 2020, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.
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