Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:543174. doi: 10.1155/2013/543174. Epub 2013 Dec 7.
Electroacupuncture improves bladder and bowel function in patients with traumatic spinal cord injury: results from a prospective observational study.
Liu Z1, Wang W2, Wu J1, Zhou K3, Liu B1.
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In order to explore the effect of electroacupuncture (EA) for chronic bowel and bladder dysfunction after traumatic spinal cord injury, 14 patients were treated with electroacupuncture once a day, five times a week for the first four weeks, and once every other day, three times a week for the following four weeks. The patients were then followed up for six months. After treatment, four (4/14, 28.57%) patients resumed normal voiding; six (6/14, 42.86%) resumed normal voiding for no less than half of all micturition behaviors; four (4/14, 28.57%) required supplementary urination methods for higher than half of all micturition behaviors. These effects persisted during followup. Mean postvoid RUV decreased by 190.29 ± 101.87 mL (P < 0.01) after treatment and by 198.86 ± 112.18 mL (P < 0.01) during followup. Patients' weekly urinary incontinence frequency decreased 7.14 ± 46.34 times/week (P = 0.036) after treatment and decreased 49.86 ± 44.38 times/week during followup. After treatment, four (4/14, 28.57%) patients resumed normal bowel movements (P = 0.025); five (5/14, 35.71%) reduced the dependence on supplementary defecation methods; five (5/14, 35.71%) had no changes. In patients with chronic bowel and bladder dysfunction after traumatic SCI, EA may provide a valuable alternative tool in improving patients' self-controlled bowel and bladder functions with minimal side effects.

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:431580. doi: 10.1155/2014/431580. Epub 2014 Apr 3.
Neuroprotective effects of different modalities of acupuncture on traumatic spinal cord injury in rats.
Jiang SH1, Tu WZ2, Zou EM2, Hu J2, Wang S2, Li JR3, Wang WS2, He R2, Cheng RD4, Liao WJ1.
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Spinal cord injury (SCI) can induce a series of histological, biochemical, and functional changes. Acupuncture is commonly used for SCI patients. Using male rats of spinal cord injury with the New York University (NYU) Impactor, we investigated the response of electroacupuncture (EA), manual acupuncture (MA), and transcutaneous acupoint electrical stimulation (TAES) at Shuigou (DU26) and Fengfu (DU16) acupoints to understand the effects and mechanisms of acupuncture in neuroprotection and neuronal function recovery after SCI. Histological study showed a restored neural morphology and an increase in the quantity of neurons after EA, MA, and TAES administrations. Acupuncture's antioxidation effects were demonstrated by alleviation of the post-SCI superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity increase and malondialdehyde (MDA) level decrease. The anti-inflammation effect of acupuncture was shown as the reduced expression of inflammatory cytokines including interleukin-1 β (IL-1 β ), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor- α (TNF- α ) when SCI was treated. And the antiapoptosis role was approved by TUNEL staining. Our data confirmed that the role of acupuncture in neuroprotection and dorsal neuronal function recovery after rat SCI, especially, EA stimulating at Shuigou (DU26) and Fengfu (DU16) can greatly promote neuronal function recovery, which may result from antioxidation, anti-inflammation, and antiapoptosis effects of acupuncture.

Zhen Ci Yan Jiu. 2014 Aug;39(4):259-66, 277.
[Effect of elongated-needle penetration intervention on spinal apoptosis and cell signal transduction in acute spinal cord injury rabbits].
[Article in Chinese]
Chen RL, Quan RF, Xu SC, Ni YM, Zheng X, Xie SJ.
To observe the effect of elongated-needle penetration (ENP) stimulation of "Zhibian" (BL 54), "Shuidao" (ST 28), "Qihai" (CV 6) and "Zhongji" (CV 3) on spinal nerve cell apoptosis and cellular signal transduction in spinal cord injury rabbits, so as to reveal its mechanism underlying improvement of spinal injury.
A total of 80 adult Newzealand rabbits were randomized to control, model, ENP, ENP + LY 294002 (PI3K antagonist), ENP + PD 98059 (MEK antagonist) groups, with 16 rabbits in each group. The spinal cord injury model was established by using modified Allen's method (Gravity-drop device). Elongated-needle penetration was applied to bilateral BL 54, ST 28, CV 3 and CV 6, once daily for 3 times. For rabbits of the ENP+ LY 294002 and ENP+ PD 98059 groups, LY 294002 (10 microg, 20 microL), PD 98059 (3 microg, 20 microL) were separately given by intrathecal injection. Pathomorphological changes of the injured spinal cord (T13-L1) were observed after H.E. stain. Spinal cell apoptosis was detected by TUNEL,and phosphorylated (p)-Akt and p-ERK1/2 immunoactivity was detected by immunohistochemistry, and the expression levels of p-Akt, p-ERK1/2, cytochrome C (Cyt C) and Caspase-3 proteins were determined by Western blot (WB), and serum TNF-alpha content was assayed by ELISA.
H. E. staining showed apparent structural changes as hemmorrhage, inflammatory cell infiltration, cellular edema and necrosis, and formation of vacuolation in the spinal cord in the model group, which was marked milder in the ENP group. TUNEL assay showed that the rate of apoptotic cells was notably increased in the model group than in the control group (P < 0.05), obviously decreased in the ENP group when compared with the model group (P < 0.05). Immunohistochemistry, WB and ELISA results showed that compared with the control group, spinal p-Akt and p-ERK1/2 protein expression levels in the model group were significantly decreased (P < 0.05), and Cyt C and Caspase-3 expression levels and serum TNF-a content were significantly increased in the model group (P < 0.05). Compared with the model group, the expression levels of p-Akt, p-ERK1/2 were significantly increased in the ENP group (P < 0.05), while Cyt C and Caspase-3 expression levels and TNF-alpha content were significantly down-regulated in the ENP group (P < 0.05). After intrathecal injection of PI3K and MEK antagonists, the effects of ENP were significantly weakened in reducing apoptosis rate, upregulating p-Akt and p-ERK1/2 expression and in down-regulating Cyt C and Caspase-3 expression and TNF-alpha content (P < 0.05), suggesting important roles of ERK1/2 mediated extracellular and PI3K/Akt mediated intracellular apoptotic signal transduction pathways in ENP induced repair of the traumatic tissues.
ENP stimulation can decrease spinal injury and cell apoptosis in spinal injury rabbits, which may be closely related to its effects in up-regulating p-Akt and p-ERK1/2 and down-regulating Cyt C and Caspase-3 expression levels in the spinal cord and serum TNF-alpha content.

J Spinal Cord Med. 2016 Feb 11. [Epub ahead of print]
Auricular acupuncture for spinal cord injury related neuropathic pain: a pilot controlled clinical trial.
Estores I, Chen K, Jackson B, Lao L, Gorman PH.
Objective To obtain preliminary data on the effects of an auricular acupuncture protocol, Battlefield Acupuncture (BFA), on self-reported pain intensity in persons with chronic Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) and neuropathic pain. Design Pilot randomized delayed entry single center crossover clinical trial at an outpatient rehabilitation and integrative medicine hospital center. Methods Chronic (> one year post injury) ASIA impairment scale A through D individuals with SCI with injury level from C3 through T12 and below level neuropathic pain with at least five on the Numeric Rating Scale (NRS) were recruited. Twenty-four subjects were randomized to either an eight-week once weekly ten-needle BFA protocol (n = 13) or to a waiting list followed by the BFA protocol (n = 11). Outcome measures The primary outcome measure was change in the pain severity NRS. Secondary outcome was the Global Impression of Change. Results Demographically there were no significant differences between groups. Mean pain scores at baseline were higher in acupuncture than control subjects (7.75 ± 1.54 vs. 6.25 ± 1.04, P = 0.027). Although both groups reported significant reduction in pain during the trial period, the BFA group reported more pain reduction than the delayed entry group (average change in NRS at eight weeks -2.92 ± 2.11 vs. -1.13 ± 2.14, P = 0.065). There was a significant difference in groups when a group-by-time interaction in a mixed-effect repeated measures model (P = 0.014). Conclusion This pilot study has provided proof of concept that BFA has clinically meaningful effect on the modulation of SCI neuropathic pain.

Neural Regen Res. 2015 Dec;10(12):2033-9. doi: 10.4103/1673-5374.172323.
Electroacupuncture promotes the recovery of motor neuron function in the anterior horn of the injured spinal cord.
Yang JH1, Lv JG1, Wang H1, Nie HY1.
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Acupuncture has been shown to lessen the inflammatory reaction after acute spinal cord injury and reduce secondary injury. However, the mechanism of action remains unclear. In this study, a rat model of spinal cord injury was established by compressing the T8-9 segments using a modified Nystrom method. Twenty-four hours after injury, Zusanli (ST36), Xuanzhong (GB39), Futu (ST32) and Sanyinjiao (SP6) were stimulated with electroacupuncture. Rats with spinal cord injury alone were used as controls. At 2, 4 and 6 weeks after injury, acetylcholinesterase (AChE) activity at the site of injury, the number of medium and large neurons in the spinal cord anterior horn, glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) mRNA expression, and Basso, Beattie and Bresnahan locomotor rating scale scores were greater in the electroacupuncture group compared with the control group. These results demonstrate that electroacupuncture increases AChE activity, up-regulates GDNF mRNA expression, and promotes the recovery of motor neuron function in the anterior horn after spinal cord injury.

Neural Plast. 2016;2016:2371875. doi: 10.1155/2016/2371875. Epub 2016 Aug 11.
Effects of Electroacupuncture at Governor Vessel Acupoints on Neurotrophin-3 in Rats with Experimental Spinal Cord Injury.
Mo YP1, Yao HJ2, Lv W3, Song LY3, Song HT4, Yuan XC5, Mao YQ6, Jing QK3, Shi SH7, Li ZG3.
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In an effort to explore new, noninvasive treatment options for spinal cord injuries (SCI), this study investigated the effects of electroacupuncture (EA) for SCI rat models. SCI was induced by a modified Allen's weight-drop method. We investigated the response of EA at Dazhui (GV 14) and Mingmen (GV 4) acupoints to understand the effects and mechanisms of EA in neuroprotection and neuronal function recovery after SCI. BBB testing was used to detect motor function of rats' hind limbs among groups, and EA was shown to promote the recovery of SCI rats' motor function. Nissl staining showed a restored neural morphology and an increase in the quantity of neurons after EA. Also, the antiapoptosis role was exposed by TUNEL staining. Western blotting analysis was used to determine the protein expression of neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) in spinal cord tissue. Compared to the sham group, the expression levels of NT-3 were significantly decreased and EA was shown to upregulate the expression of NT-3. The present study suggests that the role of EA in neuroprotection and dorsal neuronal function recovery after SCI in rats, especially EA stimulation at GV 14 and GV 4, can greatly promote neuronal function recovery, which may result from upregulating the expression of NT-3.