Medical Research

Nerve Growth Factor and Electroacupuncture

Kristen Sparrow • July 10, 2011

I bring this article to your attention for a few reasons. One: this lab has concentrated on Nerve Growth Factor and acupuncture for quite a few years, and see it as a key link in the cascade of responses between the peripheral nervous system and the Central Nervous System including the autonomic nervous system (my area of interest.) Two: this investigator sees acupuncture’s effects as similar to a massage or exercise. This is an interesting take, and the exercise angle is one shared by some Swedish researchers for years. Three: I think this is a direction of inquiry that may prove to be quite fruitful, and one that I don’t know much about, so am eager to read more on this topic, and hopefully get some of the original articles to share with you readers. Four: this article has a free full text link! Here’s the link. I will copy the abstract in full, as usual, emphases are mine.
Electroacupucture and nerve growth factor: potential clinical applications.
Manni L, Rocco ML, Barbaro Paparo S, Guaragna M

Institute of Neurobiology and Molecular Medicine, CNR, Rome, Italy.
Arch Ital Biol. 2011 Jun;149(2):247-55. doi: 10.4449/aib.v149i2.1365.

The nerve growth factor (NGF) is a neurotrophin regulating the survival and function peripheral sensory and sympathetic neurons and of forebrain cholinergic neurons. Both peripheral neuropathies and brain cholinergic dysfunctions could benefit from NGFbased therapies, but the clinical use of NGF has been so far hampered by the development of important side effects, like hyperalgesia and autonomic dysfunctions. Acupuncture is a therapeutic technique and is a part of traditional Chinese medicine. Western descriptions of the clinical efficacy of acupuncture on pain, inflammation, motor dysfunction, mood disorders, and seizures are based on the stimulation of several classes of sensory afferent fibers and the consequent activation of physiological processes similar to those resulting from physical exercise or deep massage. Recently, it has been shown that peripheral sensory stimulation by electroacupuncture (EA) could improve brain NGF availability and utilization, at the same time counteracting the major sideeffects induced by NGF administration. This review focuses on the emerging links between EA and NGF with special emphasis on the work carried out in the last decade in our laboratory, investigating the role of NGF as a mediator of EA effects in the central nervous system and as a modulator of sensory and autonomic activity.

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