Acupuncture treatment has been increasingly used to treat chronic liver diseases. We previously reported that acupuncture combined with curcumin, a natural antifibrotic compound, could remarkably attenuate liver fibrosis in chemically intoxicated rats, but the underlying molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. The present study was aimed at investigating the effects of acupuncture combined with curcumin on platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) signalling and extracellular matrix (ECM) regulation in the fibrotic liver.


A total of 60 Sprague-Dawley male rats were randomly divided into control, model, sham, acupuncture, curcumin and combination treatment groups. During the establishment of fibrosis using carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), acupuncture at LR3, LR14, BL18 and ST36 and/or curcumin treatment by mouth were performed simultaneously. After treatment, serum PDGF levels were measured. Protein and mRNA expression of key effectors in PDGF pathway and fibrinolysis in the liver was determined.


Acupuncture combined with curcumin potently reduced serum PDGF levels and selectively disrupted the PDGF-βR/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) cascade. Combination treatment also significantly repressed expression of connective tissue growth factor and upregulated expression of matrix metalloproteinase-9, promoting fibrinolysis in the fibrotic liver.


The beneficial effects of acupuncture and its combination with curcumin could be attributed to the disruption of PDGF-βR/ERK pathway and stimulated ECM degradation in the fibrotic liver. Acupuncture treatment significantly enhanced curcumin effects at the molecular level. These findings may provide molecular insights into the potential of acupuncture combined with curcumin for prevention of hepatic fibrosis. Click here to read original article content.

Article Courtesy of NCBI – Zhang XP, Zhang F, Zhang ZL, Ma J, Kong DS, Ni GX, Wang AY, Chen WX, Lu Y, Zheng SZ