Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the most common chronic liver diseases worldwide, and its treatment remain a constant challenge. A number of clinical trials have shown that acupuncture treatment has beneficial effects for patients with NAFLD, but the molecular mechanisms underlying its action are still largely unknown. In this study, we established a mouse model of NAFLD by administering a methionine- and choline-deficient (MCD) diet and selected three acupoints (ST36, CV4, and KI1) or nonacupoints (sham) for needling. We then investigated the effects of acupuncture treatment on the progression of NAFLD and the underlying mechanisms. After two weeks of acupuncture treatment, the liver in the needling-nonapcupoint group (NG) mice appeared pale and yellowish in color, while that in the needling-acupoint group (AG) showed a bright red color. Histologically, fewer lipid droplets and inflammatory foci were observed in the AG liver than in the NG liver. Furthermore, the expression of proinflammatory signaling factors was significantly downregulated in the AG liver. A lipid analysis showed that the levels of triglyceride (TG) and free fatty acid (FFA) were lower in the AG liver than in the NG liver, with an altered expression of lipid metabolism-related factors as well. Moreover, the numbers of 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG)-positive hepatocytes and levels of hepatic thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) were significantly lower in AG mice than in NG mice. In line with these results, a higher expressions of antioxidant factors was found in the AG liver than in the NG liver. Our results indicate that acupuncture repressed the progression of NAFLD by inhibiting inflammatory reactions, reducing oxidative stress, and promoting lipid metabolism of hepatocytes, suggesting that this approach might be an important complementary treatment for NAFLD.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited