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Acupuncture at Sciatic Nerve Potentially Beneficial for Sepsis

THURSDAY, Feb. 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Acupuncture at the sciatic nerve improves survival in mice with sepsis by reducing inflammation through a dopamine-dependent mechanism, according to a letter published online Feb. 23 in Nature Medicine.

Noting that vagal stimulation positively affects inflammation, Rafael Torres-Rosas, from Rutgers University in Newark, N.J., and colleagues applied electroacupuncture at the sciatic nerve in mice with sepsis.

The researchers found that electroacupuncture led to increased production of anti-inflammatory cytokines and improved survival. The treatment also induced vagal activation of aromatic L-amino acid decarboxylase which led to the production of dopamine in the adrenal medulla, which blocked cytokine production. However, the dopamine receptor 1 agonist fenoldopam suppressed systemic inflammation and could rescue mice with adrenal insufficiency against sepsis-related death.

"Our results suggest a new anti-inflammatory mechanism mediated by the sciatic and vagus nerves that modulates the production of catecholamines in the adrenal glands," Torres-Rosas and colleagues conclude.

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