Electroacupuncture ameliorates abnormal defaecation and regulates corticotrophin-releasing factor in a rat model of stress

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To examine the effect of electroacupuncture (EA) treatment on abnormal defaecation in a rat model of chronic heterotypic stress (CHS) and investigate the underlying mechanisms.


20 male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into three groups: normal (n=6), CHS (n=7), and CHS+EA (n=7). Rats in the CHS group and CHS+EA groups received four different types of stressors for 7 days. For rats in the CHS+EA group, EA was applied at ST36 in the bilateral hind legs for 30 min before each stress-loading session. Rats in the normal group did not receive stressors or EA treatment. The faecal pellets of each rat were collected and weighed at a fixed time every day. Protein expression of corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF) in the hypothalamus and colorectal tissues was measured by Western blotting at the end of the experiment on the 7th day.


After 7 consecutive days of CHS, the number of faecal pellets, faecal wet weight, and faecal water content were significantly increased in the CHS group compared with the normal group (p=0.035, p=0.008 and p=0.008, respectively). All three parameters were significantly decreased in CHS+EA versus CHS groups (p=0.030, p=0.011 and p=0.006, respectively). Stress significantly increased CRF expression in both the hypothalamus and colorectal tissues. The excessive CRF responses seen following CHS were significantly suppressed by EA treatment.


EA treatment can ameliorate stress loading induced abnormal defaecation in rats and decrease protein expression of CRF centrally (hypothalamus) and peripherally (colorectal tissues), suggesting a potentially therapeutic role for EA in stress-related responses.

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