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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2016, Vol. 14 ›› Issue (3): 197-202.doi: 10.1016/S2095-4964(16)60250-9

• Research Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Repeated cupping manipulation temporary decreases natural killer lymphocyte frequency, activity and cytotoxicity

Boris V.Dons'koia, Viktor P.Chernyshova, Dariia V.Osypchuka, Sergiy M.Baksheevb   

  1. a Laboratory of Immunology, Institute of Pediatrics, Obstetrics and Gynecology, National Academy of Medical Sciences of Ukraine, 04050 Kiev, Ukraine 
    b Gynecology Department, Kiev Maternity Hospital, 03148 Kiev, Ukraine
  • Received:2015-11-21 Accepted:2016-03-02 Online:2016-05-15 Published:2016-05-15
  • Contact: Boris V. Dons’koi, PhD; E-mail:


Elevated natural killer lymphocyte cytotoxicity (NKc) has been linked with reproductive problems in women. Here we evaluate the potential benefit of cupping therapy (CT) in reproduction-related immune responses.


This was a pilot clinical study. Participants were healthy female volunteers (n = 23) with elevated NKc, and received repeated CT 3 times over 5 d (inner pressure 40–50 kPa, 40 min; 12–15 cups). Lymphocyte subsets, NKc and NK lymphocyte activity (NKa) were measured in blood on day 0 (initial levels, before the first treatment) and days 3, 10 and 17 after the last CT treatment, using the K562-stimulated CD69 expression assay.


As a result of CT manipulations NKa was reduced on days 3 and 10, and NK percentage was reduced on day 10. NKc was most sensitive to CT treatment, resulting in their decreased counts at 3, 10 and 17 d post CT. CT treatment decreased NKc in the majority of individuals (87%), but the magnitude of the effect was variable. Out of 23 subjects 9 (39.1%) had a 2–3 fold decrease of NKc on days 3, 10 and 17; 11 (47.8%) started to show a decrease in NKc later, or more quickly returned to base levels; and only 3 (13%) subjects displayed no effect of CT on NKc. Expectedly, no changes in T-cell subsets (CD3CD4, CD3CD8, HLADR, CD158a) were observed after CT.


CT decreased NK cell numbers, their activity and cytotoxicity. Low cost, safety, non-invasive nature and ease of administration make CT a promising approach for NKc down-regulation.

Key words: Killer cells, Natural, Cytotoxicity, Cupping therapy

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