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Acupuncture improves sensitivity to insulin in women with PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a complex endocrine and metabolic disorder associated with ovulatory dysfunction, hyperandrogenism, abdominal obesity, and insulin resistance. Pharmacotherapy is often unsatisfactory.

At age 10 wk, PCOS rats were randomly divided into three groups; PCOS, PCOS electric-acupuncture, and PCOS exercise. PCOS electric-acupuncture rats received 2-Hz electric-acupuncture (evoking muscle twitches) three times/wk during 4–5 wk. PCOS exercise rats had free access to a running wheel for 4–5 wk. electric-acupuncture and exercise improved insulin sensitivity, measured by clamp, in PCOS rats.

Exercise also reduced adiposity, visceral adipocyte size, and plasma leptin. Electric-acupuncture increased plasma IGF-I. Real-time RT-PCR revealed increased expression of leptin and IL-6 and decreased expression of uncoupling protein 2 in visceral adipose tissue of PCOS rats compared with controls.

Electric-acupuncture restored the expression of leptin and uncoupling protein 2, whereas exercise normalized adipose tissue leptin and IL-6 expression in PCOS rats.

Thus, electric-acupuncture and exercise ameliorate insulin resistance in rats with PCOS. This effect may involve regulation of adipose tissue metabolism and production because electric-acupuncture and exercise each partly restore divergent adipose tissue gene expression associated with insulin resistance, obesity, and inflammation.

In contrast to exercise, electric-acupuncture improves insulin sensitivity and modulates adipose tissue gene expression without influencing adipose tissue mass and cellularity.


Mannerås et al. (2011) Low-Frequency Electro-Acupuncture and Physical Exercise Improve Metabolic Disturbances and Modulate Gene Expression in Adipose Tissue in Rats with Dihydrotestosterone-Induced Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Endocrinology 149: 3559–3568, 2008.


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