Glutamate of hippocampus involved in remission of depression by acupuncture in rats

Ling Fan, Zhao Chen, Wenbin Fu, Nenggui Xu, Jianhua Liu, Aiping Lv, Ziping Li, Shengyong Su, Taixiang Wu, Aihua Ou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Acupuncture is an ancient medical technique of China. Clinical studies have found that acupuncture is an effective treatment modality for remitting stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. Objective: This study investigated the molecular mechanisms of acupuncture that have been demonstrated to be beneficial for treating depression. Methods: A depressive disorder model was induced by exposing Sprague Dawley rats to chronic unpredictable stress. Acupuncture stimulation and riluzole were used to treat the depressed rats. Physical and pathologic changes - including behavioral performance, body weight, hippocampal glutamate concentration, and glutamate-glutamine cycle related genes - were analyzed before and after therapy. Results: Acupuncture improved behavioral performance, reduced glutamate in the hippocampus, prevented damage to hippocampal neurons, reduced glutamate release, and increased glutamate recycling. Conclusions: Acupuncture is a safe and effective modality for depression therapy in rats. Acupuncture treatments may relieve depression and reduce glutamate content to normal levels. Additional research is needed to assess the effect of acupuncture on depression in human patients and to explore other possible mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-78
Number of pages8
JournalMedical Acupuncture
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016



  • Acupuncture
  • Depression
  • Glutamate
  • Rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine

Cite this

Fan, L., Chen, Z., Fu, W., Xu, N., Liu, J., Lv, A., Li, Z., Su, S., Wu, T., & Ou, A. (2016). Glutamate of hippocampus involved in remission of depression by acupuncture in rats. Medical Acupuncture, 28(2), 71-78.