The PCOS-like rat model was built by hypodermic injection with dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). The rats were subjected to EA intervention (ST29 and SP6 acupuncture points) for 5 weeks. Primary granulosa cells were isolated from control and PCOS-like rats for evaluating insulin resistance, mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in vitro.
The expression of SREBP1 was increased in PCOS-like rats, which was suppressed by EA treatment. In addition, lentivirus-mediated overexpression of SREBP1 restrained EA treatment-induced improvement in pathological changes, serum hormone levels and insulin resistance in rats. In addition, overexpression of SREBP1 repressed insulin-stimulated phosphorylation of insulin receptor β (IR) and AKT in primary granulosa cells. Moreover, upregulation of SREBP1 further exacerbated mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress in granulosa cells isolated from PCOS-like rats. Mechanically, EA treatment suppressed SREBP1 expression through inducing the activation of AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling pathway in PCOS-like rats.
EA intervention alleviated PCOS-like symptoms in rats via improving IR, mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress through regulating SREBP1, a lipid metabolism regulator. Our findings illuminate the novel protective mechanisms of EA in the treatment of PCOS.