Acupuncture ameliorated skeletal muscle atrophy induced by hindlimb suspension in mice

Akiko Onda, Qibin Jiao, Yasuharu Nagano, Takayuki Akimoto, Toshikazu Miyamoto, Susumu Minamisawa*, Toru Fukubayashi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


Preventing skeletal muscle atrophy is critical for maintaining quality of life, but it is often a challenging goal for the elderly and patients with severe conditions. We hypothesized that acupuncture in place of exercise training is an alternative non-pharmacological intervention that can help to prevent muscle atrophy. To elucidate the effects of acupuncture on skeletal muscle atrophy caused by hindlimb suspension (HS), we performed acupuncture on mice according to two different methods: acupuncture with electrical stimulation (EA: electroacupuncture) and without electrical stimulation (MA: manual acupuncture). A needle was retained in the gastrocnemius muscle for 30 min every day for 2 weeks in the EA and MA groups. In the EA group, 30 min of repetitive electrical stimulation (1. Hz, 1 ms pulse width, 6.5. mA intensity) was also applied. HS significantly reduced muscle mass and the cross-sectional area of the soleus muscles. This HS-induced reduction was significantly improved in the EA group, although the level of improvement remained insufficient when compared with the control group. We found that the mRNA expression levels of atrogin-1 and MuRF1, which play a principal role in muscle-specific degradation as E3 ubiquitin ligases, were significantly increased in the HS group compared to the control group. EA and MA reduced the HS-induced upregulation of atrogin-1 (p<. 0.01 in EA and MA) and MuRF1 (p<. 0.01 in EA) mRNAs. We also found that the expression levels of PI3K, Akt1, TRPV4, adenosine A1 receptor, myostatin, and SIRT1 mRNAs tended to be increased by HS. EA and MA further increased the HS-induced upregulation of Akt1 (p<. 0.05 in MA) and TRPV4 (p<. 0.05 in MA) mRNAs. We concluded that acupuncture partially prevented skeletal muscle atrophy. This effect might be due to an increase in protein synthesis and a decrease in protein degradation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-439
Number of pages6
JournalBiochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Jul 8
Externally publishedYes


  • Atrogin-1
  • Electroacupuncture
  • MuRF1
  • Proteolysis
  • Skeletal muscle atrophy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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