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Molecular-level effects of acupuncture on depression: a genome-wide transcriptome analysis of pituitary gland in rats exposed to chronic restraint stress

Author: Wang Y, Jiang HL, Meng H, Li J, Yang XJ, Zhao BC, Yu QY, Liang XC, Bao TY
Page: 486

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the antidepressant mechanism of acupuncture at the molecular level in the pituitary gland of rats exposed to chronic restraint stress (CRS). METHODS: Forty-eight rats were randomly divided into a control group (C), model group (M), fluoxetine group (F), and acupuncture group (A). CRS was induced in the model group by restraining rats for 28 days. Groups F and A were given fluoxetine administration and acupuncture intervention, respectively, 1 h before the CRS procedures were implemented. On the 29th day, rat pituitary glands were harvested for RNA extraction and RNA-sequencing analysis. RESULTS: Differentially expressed gene analysis identified 148, 87, and 179 response genes differentially expressed in group C vs group M, group F vs group M, and group A vs group M, respectively. Using Gene Ontology term enrichment analysis and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes pathway enrichment analysis, we identified the up-regulation of gene sets involved in extracellular space, receptor binding, and monoamine neurotransmitter metabolism, and the down-regulation of gene sets involved in immune response and inflammatory response as the prevailing transcriptomic signatures in the pituitary gland of rats treated with CRS, fluoxetine, or acupuncture. CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that acupuncture has a multitarget antidepressant effect at the molecular and behavioral levels.

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