Effects of acupuncture on chronic corticosterone-induced depression-like behavior and expression of neuropeptide Y in the rats
Repeated injection of corticosterone (CORT) induces dysregulation in the HPA axis, resulting in depression and anxiety. Many studies have shown that acupuncture, which is widely used for the treatment of stress and mental illness, in East Asian countries, is an effective therapeutic intervention for psychosomatic disorders. We investigated the influence of acupuncture therapy on chronic CORT-induced behavioral responses to the forced swimming test (FST) and elevated plus maze (EPM) and expression of neuropeptide Y (NPY) in the rat brain using immunohistochemistry. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were injected with CORT (40 mg/kg, i.p.) once daily for 19 consecutive days. The dysregulation of HPA axis by external injection of CORT was confirmed by measuring the CORT concentration in plasma and the expression level of CRF in hypothalamus. Acupuncture was performed at the PC6 acupoint for 5 min before CORT injection. Acupuncture significantly reduced depression- and anxiety-like behavior and increased NPY expression in the hypothalamus. These results demonstrated that stimulation of the PC6 acupoint suppresses the symptopathology of the hypoactivated HPA axis in chronic CORT-induced rat model of depression.