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Open AccessReview

Effect of Acupuncture on the p38 Signaling Pathway in Several Nervous System Diseases: A Systematic Review

by Tzu-Hsuan Wei 1 and Ching-Liang Hsieh 1,2,3,*
1
Department of Chinese Medicine, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung 40447, Taiwan
2
Chinese Medicine Research Center, China Medical University, Taichung 40402, Taiwan
3
Graduate Institute of Acupuncture Science, College of Chinese Medicine, China Medical University, Taichung 40402, Taiwan
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21(13), 4693; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21134693
Received: 9 June 2020 / Revised: 26 June 2020 / Accepted: 28 June 2020 / Published: 30 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Section Biochemistry)
Acupuncture is clinically used to treat various diseases and exerts positive local and systemic effects in several nervous system diseases. Advanced molecular and clinical studies have continually attempted to decipher the mechanisms underlying these effects of acupuncture. While a growing understanding of the pathophysiology underlying several nervous system diseases shows it to be related to inflammation and impair cell regeneration after ischemic events, the relationship between the therapeutic mechanism of acupuncture and the p38 MAPK signal pathway has yet to be elucidated. This review discusses the latest advancements in the identification of the effect of acupuncture on the p38 signaling pathway in several nervous system diseases. We electronically searched databases including PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library from their inception to April 2020, using the following keywords alone or in various combinations: “acupuncture”, “p38 MAPK pathway”, “signaling”, “stress response”, “inflammation”, “immune”, “pain”, “analgesic”, “cerebral ischemic injury”, “epilepsy”, “Alzheimer’s disease”, “Parkinson’s disease”, “dementia”, “degenerative”, and “homeostasis”. Manual acupuncture and electroacupuncture confer positive therapeutic effects by regulating proinflammatory cytokines, ion channels, scaffold proteins, and transcription factors including TRPV1/4, Nav, BDNF, and NADMR1; consequently, p38 regulates various phenomena including cell communication, remodeling, regeneration, and gene expression. In this review article, we found the most common acupoints for the relief of nervous system disorders including GV20, GV14, ST36, ST37, and LI4. Acupuncture exhibits dual regulatory functions of activating or inhibiting different p38 MAPK pathways, contributing to an overall improvement of clinical symptoms and function in several nervous system diseases. View Full-Text
Keywords: acupuncture; p38 signaling pathway; nervous system diseases acupuncture; p38 signaling pathway; nervous system diseases
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Wei, T.-H.; Hsieh, C.-L. Effect of Acupuncture on the p38 Signaling Pathway in Several Nervous System Diseases: A Systematic Review. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2020, 21, 4693.

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