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Objectives of study: The effects of acupuncture on the immune response are described extensively in rats and human beings. Accordingly acupuncture modulates the secretion and reduces the mRNA expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines as well as promotes the activity of natural killer cells by increased level of Interferon-γ (IFN-γ), Interleukin-2 (IL-2) and Interleukin-12 (IL-12) in the blood serum. At the same time acupuncture is often connected with a decrease of the body temperature in patients with fever. In chronic allergies acupuncture can reduce the IL-10 level in the plasma. A continuous treatment with acupuncture is supposed to improve an existing immunosuppression after trauma or surgery, significantly. An effect of acupuncture on the cellular stress system, however, has been rarely examined so far, but is believed to increase the expression of inducible Heat Shock proteins and to prolong their presence in the cell. In the presented study expressions of selected cytokines and the cellular stress response as represented by the inducible Heat Shock protein Hsp70 in cows with left abomasal displacement after corrective surgery with and without acupuncture are compared.
Materials and Methods: 28 cows with left abomasal displacement underwent corrective surgery at the Clinic for Ruminants in Giessen. Of these 14 cows were subjected to acupuncture stimulation of bowl motility after surgery twice. Samples of venous blood were drawn from each cow before and after the acupuncture treatment using PaxGene Blood RNA tubes (Becton Dickinson). Total RNA was isolated from the blood samples (PaxGene Blood RNA kit, Qiagen) and transcribed into cDNA (StrataScript First-Strand Synthesis System, Stratagene). Different expression of Hsp70 and IL-1β, IL-2, IL-6, IL-10, INF-γ and TNF-α were calculated against house-keeping genes using Real Time-PCR (Brilliant SYBR Green QPCR Master Mix, Stratagene).
Results: Acupuncture significantly reduced the mRNA expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines Interleukin-6 (IL-6) and Interleukin-1β (IL-1ß). We also found increased levels of Interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and Interleukin-2 (IL-2) mRNA. Comparison between acupuncture-treated and non-treated cows also showed a slight up-regulation of Hsp70 in acupunctured cows.
Conclusions: Use of acupuncture supporting surgery could therefore improve the recovery of the cows and thus prevent the occurrence of post-surgical infections.