Search JIM Advanced Search

Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine ›› 2010, Vol. 8 ›› Issue (7): 670-677.doi: 10.3736/jcim20100711

Special Issue: Acupuncture & Moxibustion

• Original Experimental Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of acupuncture on the number and degranulation ratio of mast cells and expression of tryptase in synovium of rats with adjuvant arthritis

 Tian-feng Hea, Shu-hui Zhangb, Lian-bo Lia, Wen-jia Yangc,Jun Zhu a, Yun-fei Chenc   

  1. a Laboratory Center of Medicine, Yueyang Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine,Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200437, China
    b Department of Pathology, Yueyang Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200437, China
    c Shanghai Research Institute of Acupuncture and Meridian, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200030, China
  • Received:2010-03-15 Online:2010-07-20 Published:2010-07-15
  • Contact: Yun-fei Chen


To observe the effects of acupuncture on synovial pathology, synovial mast cell degranulation and tryptase expression and to investigate the relationship between the functions of mast cells and effects of acupuncture on early adjuvant arthritis in rats.

Forty-six male Wistar rats were randomly divided into normal control group (n=16), untreated group (n=15) and acupuncture group (n=15). Adjuvant arthritis was induced by injection of 0.1 mL Freund’s complete adjuvant in right hind limb footpad. Normal control group and untreated group received no acupuncture treatment, while rats in the acupuncture group were treated with sterilized disposable stainless steel needles inserted perpendicularly as deep as 2 to 3 mm at Xuanzhong (GB39), 6 mm at Shenshu (BL23) and 7 mm at Zusanli (ST36) for eight times (15 min each time) every two days. Setting the modeling day as the 0 day of the experiment, the body weight and paw volume of the rats were measured every three days from the 0 day. In the end, synovial tissues of the right hind ankles were sampled and made into paraffin sections. Then they were firstly stained with hematoxylin-eosin for observing synovial pathology to evaluate the effects of acupuncture on adjuvant arthritis, then stained with toluidine blue for observing the number and degranulation ratio of synovial mast cells and finally detected by immunohistochemical staining method to investigate the expression of tryptase in synovium.

Compared with the untreated group, the body weight of rats in the acpuncture group was increased significantly (P<0.05), while the paw volume decreased obviously (P<0.01). Hematoxylin-eosin staining showed that acupuncture significantly inhibited inflammatory cell infiltration, synovial cell hyperplasia, and synovial fibroplasia in synovium of rats with adjuvant arthritis as compared with the untreated group (P<0.05). Toluidine blue staining showed that acupuncture could significantly diminish the numbers of total and degranulated mast cells in rats with adjuvant arthritis (P<0.01), which were significantly higher in the untreated group than in the normal control group (P<0.01). Showing by immunohistochemical staining, the expression of tryptase in synovium in the acupuncture group was decreased as compared with the untreated group (P<0.01). Analyzed by Spearman’s bivariate correlation, the number of mast cells and degranulation ratio of mast cells were positively correlated with the pathological scores (r=0.837, P<0.01; r=0.634, P<0.01).

Acupuncture can improve pathological condition of inflammatory synovium in rats with early adjuvant arthritis by inhibiting the function of synovial mast cells, which may play an important underlying role in the immunoregulation of acupuncture on adjuvant arthritis.

Key words: Acupuncture, Mast cells, Cell degranulation, Tryptase, Arthritis, Experimental, Rats



Figure 1

HE staining of synovium of rats in different groups (Light microscopy, ×400) A: Normal control group; B: Untreated group; C: Acupuncture group."


Figure 2

Toluidine-blue staining of synovial mast cells of rats in different groups (Light microscopy, ×400) A: Normal control group; B: Untreated group; C: Acupuncture group."


Figure 3

Immunohistochemical staining of tryptase-positive cells in synovium of rats in different groups (Light microscopy, ×400) A: Normal control group; B: Untreated group; C: Acupuncture group."


[1] Lee MS, Shin BC, Ernst E . Acupuncture for rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review[J]. Rheumatology (Oxford), 2008,47(12):1747-1753
doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ken330 pmid: 18710899
[2] Wang C, de Pablo P, Chen X, Schmid C, McAlindon T . Acupuncture for pain relief in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a systematic review[J]. Arthritis Rheum, 2008,59(9):1249-1256
doi: 10.1002/art.24009 pmid: 18759255
[3] Zijlstra FJ, van den Berg-de Lange I, Huygen FJ, Klein J . Anti-inflammatory actions of acupuncture[J]. Mediators Inflamm, 2003,12(2):59-69
doi: 10.1080/0962935031000114943 pmid: 80641
[4] Cheng JJ, Cai NG, Zhai DG . The regulatory role of acupuncture and moxibustion on immune cells and molecules[J]. Jiangsu Zhong Yi Yao, 2007,39(11):87-89
doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1672-397X.2007.11.051
程健君, 蔡念光, 翟登高 . 针灸对免疫细胞及免疫分子的调节作用[J]. 江苏中医药, 2007,39(11):87-89
doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1672-397X.2007.11.051
[5] Li SG, Zhao JP, Yue YE, Zhang PS, Su QS . The alteration of immune function among rheumatoid arthritis patients with warming acupuncture[J]. Zhongguo Kang Fu Yi Xue Za Zhi, 1994,9(5):212-214
李世光, 赵俊萍, 岳月娥, 张泮生, 苏庆山 . 温针疗法对类风湿性关节炎患者免疫调节的影响[J]. 中国康复医学杂志, 1994,9(5):212-214
[6] Sun LQ, Liu XL, Xiao J, Yin SY . Clinical observation of acupuncture in treatment of 434 patients with rheumatoid arthritis[J]. Jun Yi Jin Xiu Xue Yuan Xue Bao, 1992,13(3):259-261
孙丽琴, 刘心莲, 肖君, 尹淑英 . 针灸治疗类风湿性关节炎434例疗效观察[J]. 军医进修学院学报, 1992,13(3):259-261
[7] Wu F, Ji QS, Wang Q, Li J . Clinical observation of acupuncture in treatment of 105 patients with rheumatoid arthritis[J]. Liaoning Zhong Yi Za Zhi, 1990,14(9):40-42
吴飞, 纪青山, 王庆, 李杰 . 针刺治疗类风湿性关节炎105例临床观察[J]. 辽宁中医杂志, 1990,14(9):40-42
[8] Yim YK, Lee H, Hong KE, Kim YI, Lee BR, Son CG, Kim JE . Electro-acupuncture at acupoint ST36 reduces inflammation and regulates immune activity in collagen-induced arthritic mice[J]. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2007,4(1):51-57
doi: 10.1093/ecam/nel054
[9] He JN, Luo MF . Progress in the study on the relationship between effects of acu-moxibustion and mast cells in acupoints[J]. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu, 2007,32(3):214-216
何俊娜, 罗明富 . 针灸效应与经穴肥大细胞相关性研究概况[J]. 针刺研究, 2007,32(3):214-216
[10] Lee DM, Friend DS, Gurish MF, Benoist C, Mathis D, Brenner MB . Mast cells: a cellular link between autoantibodies and inflammatory arthritis[J]. Science, 2002,297(5587):1689-1692
doi: 10.1126/science.1073176
[11] He SH, He YS, Xie H . IgE-dependent histamine and tryptase release from human mast cells[J]. Mian Yi Xue Za Zhi, 2004,20(5):353-356
doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1000-8861.2004.05.007
何韶衡, 何永松, 谢华 . 人肥大细胞的IgE依赖性组胺和类胰蛋白酶分泌[J]. 免疫学杂志, 2004,20(5):353-356
doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1000-8861.2004.05.007
[12] Xu SQ, Bao ZS, Wu ZM, Wang Y, Qi YX, Zhang JX . Changes in pathomorphology of synovial membrane tissues and levels of serum interleukin 4,interleukin 10 in adjuvant-induced arthritis rats following acupuncture treatment[J]. Zhongguo Zu Zhi Gong Cheng Yan Jiu Yu Lin Chuang Kang Fu, 2008,12(28):5440-5443
doi: 10.3321/j.issn:1673-8225.2008.28.012
许素琴, 包兆胜, 吴仲敏, 王勇, 戚永孝, 张建兴 . 佐剂性关节炎大鼠血清白细胞介素4、白细胞介素10含量及滑膜组织病理形态学对针灸干预的反应[J]. 中国组织工程研究与临床康复, 2008,12(28):5440-5443
doi: 10.3321/j.issn:1673-8225.2008.28.012
[13] Li ZR. Experimental acupuncture science[M]. Beijing: China Press of Traditional Chinese Medicine,2004: 327-329
李忠仁 . 实验针灸学[M]. 北京: 中国中医药出版社,2004: 327-329
[14] Shi XF, Xue L, Hu JD, Wang D, Wang J . Effect of Bingwu Gao on expression of platelet-derived growth factor in rats with rheumatoid arthritis[J]. Zhong Yi Wai Zhi Za Zhi, 2007,16(4):5-7
施晓芬, 薛鸾, 胡建东, 王丹, 王静 . 冰乌膏对类风湿性关节炎血小板衍生生长因子的影响[J]. 中医外治杂志, 2007,16(4):5-7
[15] Wang YY, Cui XJ, Han L . The effect on the expression of NF-κB and bcl-2 in synovium of joint of sodium artesunate in treating adjuvant arthritis of rats[J]. Zhongguo Yi Yuan Yao Xue Za Zhi, 2005,25(11):1003-1005
doi: 10.3321/j.issn:1001-5213.2005.11.003
王燕燕, 崔向军, 韩莉 . 青蒿琥酯对佐剂性关节炎大鼠踝关节滑膜的NF-κB、bcl-2表达的影响[J]. 中国医院药学杂志, 2005,25(11):1003-1005
doi: 10.3321/j.issn:1001-5213.2005.11.003
[16] Wang DT, Shen Y . Exploration on pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis from “deficiency of Zang-organs and collateral disease”[J]. Tianjin Zhong Yi Yao, 2008,25(6):482-483
汪东涛, 沈鹰 . 从“脏虚络病”探讨类风湿性关节炎的发病机制[J]. 天津中医药, 2008,25(6):482-483
[17] Shin K, Gurish MF, Friend DS, Pemberton AD, Thornton EM, Miller HR, Lee DM . Lymphocyte-independent connective tissue mast cells populate murine synovium[J]. Arthritis Rheum, 2006,54(9):2863-2871
doi: 10.1002/art.22058 pmid: 16947397
[18] Xu SY, Bian RL, Chen X. Methodology of pharmacological experiments[M]. Beijing: People’s Medical Publishing House, 2002: 920.
徐叔云, 卞如濂, 陈修 . 药理实验方法学[M]. 北京: 人民卫生出版社, 2002: 920.
[19] Caughey GH.Mast cell tryptases and chymases in inflammation and host defense[J].Immunol Rev , 2007, 217: 141-154
doi: 10.1111/j.1600-065X.2007.00509.x pmid: 17498057
[20] Christy AL, Brown MA . The multitasking mast cell: positive and negative roles in the progression of autoimmunity[J]. J Immunol, 2007,179(5):2673-2679
doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.179.5.2673
[21] Gotis-Graham I, Smith MD, Parker A , McNeil HP.Synovial mast cell responses during clinical improvement in early rheumatoid arthritis[J]. Ann Rheum Dis, 1998,57(11):664-671
doi: 10.1136/ard.57.11.664 pmid: 9924208
[22] Palmer HS, Kelso EB, Lockhart JC, Sommerhoff CP, Plevin R, Goh FG, Ferrell WR . Protease-activated receptor 2 mediates the proinflammatory effects of synovial mast cells[J]. Arthritis Rheum, 2007,56(11):3532-3540
doi: 10.1002/(ISSN)1529-0131
[23] Zhang D, Ding GH, Shen XY, Yao W, Lin J . Study on the correlation between meridian acupoints and mast cells[J]. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu, 2005,30(2):115-119
张迪, 丁光宏, 沈雪勇, 姚伟, 林俊 . 经络穴位与肥大细胞相关性研究进展[J]. 针刺研究, 2005,30(2):115-119
[24] Li M, Shi J, Liu XC, Wang LN, Zhang J, Li LL, Guan XM . Effects of electroacupuncture on the number of subcutaneous mast cells in and beside the acupoint and the inflammatory pain focus in the rat[J]. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu, 2003,23(10):597-601
李熳, 施静, 刘晓春, 王丽娜, 张静, 李玲俐, 关新民 . 电针对大鼠针刺穴位、穴旁和炎性痛病灶皮下肥大细胞数量的影响[J]. 中国针灸, 2003,23(10):597-601
[25] He JN, Luo MF, Guo Y, Li CH, Zhang JL . Correlation between the therapeutic efficacy of electroacupuncture of ear-body acupoints and mast cells in experimental gastric ulcer rats[J]. Zhen Ci Yan Jiu, 2008,33(3):159-163
doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1000-0607.2008.03.003
何俊娜, 罗明富, 郭莹, 李翠红, 张金铃 . 针刺大鼠耳穴及体穴治疗实验性胃溃疡的疗效与肥大细胞的关系[J]. 针刺研究, 2008,33(3):159-163
doi: 10.3969/j.issn.1000-0607.2008.03.003
[26] Tai HQ, Jiang WF . Experimental study of acupuncture at Xiaguan(ST7) on rats with allergic rhinitis[J]. Zhejiang Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi, 2008,18(12):747-748
邰浩清, 姜文芳 . 针刺下关穴治疗过敏性鼻炎的实验研究[J]. 浙江中西医结合杂志, 2008,18(12):747-748
[27] Wu HG, Jiang B, Zhou EH, Shi Z, Shi DR, Cui YH, Kou ST, Liu HR . Regulatory mechanism of electroacupuncture in irritable bowel syndrome: preventing MC activation and decreasing SP VIP secretion[J]. Dig Dis Sci, 2008,53(6):1644-1651
doi: 10.1007/s10620-007-0062-4
[28] Liu LY, Peng A, Xing XY . A study on the action of mast cells involving the mechanism of the acupuncture-pilomoter-line[J]. Beijing Shi Fan Da Xue Xue Bao Zi Ran Ke Xue Ban, 2005,41(5):522-525
doi: 10.3321/j.issn:0476-0301.2005.05.028
刘里远, 彭安, 邢秀宇 . 肥大细胞与针刺信息传递机制研究[J]. 北京师范大学学报(自然科学版), 2005,41(5):522-525
doi: 10.3321/j.issn:0476-0301.2005.05.028
[29] Nakanishi M, Furuno T . Molecular basis of neuroimmune interaction in an in vitro coculture approach[J]. Cell Mol Immunol, 2008,5(4):249-259
doi: 10.1038/cmi.2008.31 pmid: 18761812
[1] Sherman Gu, Arthur Yin Fan. Controversial conclusions from two randomized controlled trials for acupuncture's effects on polycystic ovary syndrome or in vitro fertilization support. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2020, 18(2): 89-91.
[2] Arthur Yin Fan, David Dehui Wang, Hui Ouyang, Haihe Tian, Hui Wei, Deguang He, Changzhen Gong, Jipu Wen, Ming Jin, Chong He, Sarah Faggert Alemi, Sudaba Rahimi. Acupuncture price in forty-one metropolitan regions in the United States: An out-of-pocket cost analysis based on Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(5): 315-320.
[3] Tamer Aboushanab, Mohamed Khalil, YaserAl Ahmari. The present state of complementary medicine regulation in Saudi Arabia. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(3): 147-149.
[4] Xin-yu Yue, Zhuo-qi Feng, Xi-yi Yu, Jia-min Hu, Xiao-Jing He, Shi Shu. Fire-needle acupuncture for upper limb spastic paralysis after stroke: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(3): 167-172.
[5] Ya-ru Huangfu, Wei Peng, Bao-jun Guo, Zhi-fu Shen, Li Li, Shi-wei, Liu, Hui Zheng, You-ping Hu. Effects of acupuncture in treating insomnia due to spleen-stomach disharmony syndrome and its influence on intestinal microbiome: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(3): 161-167.
[6] Sandip B. Bharate, Vikas Kumar, Sonali S. Bharate, Bikarma Singh, Gurdarshan Singh, Amarinder Singh, Mehak Gupta, DeepikaSingh, AjayKumar, Surjeet Singh, Ram A. Vishwakarma. Discovery and preclinical development of IIIM-160, a Bergenia ciliata-based anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic botanical drug candidate. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(3): 192-204.
[7] Arthur Yin Fan, Hui Ouyang, Xinru Qian, Hui Wei, David Dehui Wang, Deguang He, Haihe Tian, Changzhen Gong, Amy Matecki, Sarah Faggert Alemi. Discussions on real-world acupuncture treatments for chronic low-back pain in older adults. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(2): 71-76.
[8] Bérénice Colleville, Nicolas Perzo, Guillaume Avinée, Anaïs Dumesnil, Frederic Ziegler, Paul Billoir, Hélène Eltchaninoff, Vincent Richard, Eric Durand. Impact of high-fat diet and vitamin D3 supplementation on aortic stenosis establishment in waved-2 epidermal growth factor receptor mutant mice. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(2): 107-114.
[9] Michelle T. Jesse, Mathew Kulas, Josephine Unitis, Nemie Beltran, Marwan Abouljoud. Acupuncture in living liver and kidney donors: a feasibility study. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(1): 3-7.
[10] Jillian Marie McDowell, Susan Heather Kohut, Debra Betts . Safe acupuncture and dry needling during pregnancy: New Zealand physiotherapists’ opinion and practice. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2019, 17(1): 30-37.
[11] Fung-Kei Cheng. An overview of the contribution of acupuncture to thyroid disorders. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(6): 375-383.
[12] Arthur Yin Fan, Sarah F. Alemi, Yingping H. Zhu, Sudaba Rahimi, Hui Wei, Haihe Tian, Deguang He, Changzhen Gong, Guanhu Yang, Chong He, Hui Ouyang . Effectiveness of two different acupuncture strategies in patients with vulvodynia: Study protocol for a pilot pragmatic controlled trial. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(6): 384-389.
[13] Xin-fang Zhang, Shui-ying Xiang, Wen-ye Geng, Wen-juan Cong, Jing Lu, Chuan-wei Jiang, Kun Wang, Zi-bing Liu . Electro-acupuncture regulates the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway in a rat model of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(6): 418-426.
[14] Jia Xu, Fu-qing Zhang, Jian Pei, Jun Ji . Acupuncture for migraine without aura: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(5): 312-321.
[15] Morufu Eyitayo Balogun, Elizabeth Enohnyaket Besong, Jacinta Nkechi Obimma, Ogochukwu Sophia Mbamalu, Fankou Serges Athanase Djobissie. Protective roles of Vigna subterranea (Bambara nut) in rats with aspirin-induced gastric mucosal injury. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 2018, 16(5): 342-349.
Full text



[1] Jin-zhou Tian, Jing Shi, Xin-qing Zhang, Qi Bi, Xin Ma, Zhi-liang Wang, Xiao-bin Li, Shu-li Shen, Lin Li, Zhen-yun Wu, Li-yan Fang, Xiao-dong Zhao, Ying-chun Miao, Peng-wen Wang, Ying Ren, Jun-xiang Yin, Yong-yan Wang, Beijing United Study Group on MCI of the Capital Foundation of Medical Developments. An explanation on "guiding principles of clinical research on mild cognitive impairment (protocol)". Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 15-21
[2] Jun Cai, Hua Wang, Sheng Zhou, Bin Wu, Hua-rong Song, Zheng-rong Xuan. Effect of Sijunzi Decoction and enteral nutrition on T-cell subsets and nutritional status in patients with gastric cancer after operation: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 37-40
[3] SUN Ming-yu, ZUO Jian, DUAN Ji-feng, HAN Jun, FAN Shi-ming, ZHANG Wei, ZHU Li-fang, YAO Ming-hui. Antitumor activities of kushen flavonoids in vivo and in vitro. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 51-59
[4] Min Cheng, Qiong Feng, Shu-wen Qian, Hui Gao, Cui-qing Zhu. Preliminary assay of p-amyloid binding elements in heart-beneficial recipe. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 68-72
[5] Guo-hong Yuan, Xiao-jing Pang, He-chao Ma. Synergic effects of Danggui Buxue Decoction in reducing toxicity of cytoxan in tumor-bearing mice. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 83-88
[6] Li Zhou, Hong-xing Zhang, Ling-guang Liu, Wen-jun Wan. Effect of electro-acupuncture at Fenglong (GV 16) on nitric oxide and endothelin in rats with hyperlipidemia. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2008, 6(1): 89-92
[7] Daniel Weber, Janelle M Wheat, Geoffrey M Currie. Inflammation and cancer: Tumor initiation, progression and metastasis,and Chinese botanical medicines. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2010, 8(11): 1006-1013
[8] Bo Wang , Wei Yan , Li-hui Hou, Xiao-ke Wu. Disorder of Tiangui (kidney essence) and reproductive dysfunction in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2010, 8(11): 1018-1022
[9] Yan-bo Zhu , Qi Wang, Cheng-yu Wu, Guo-ming Pang, Jian-xiong Zhao, Shi-lin Shen, Zhong-yuan Xia , Xue Yan . Logistic regression analysis on relationships between traditional Chinese medicine constitutional types and overweight or obesity. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2010, 8(11): 1023-1035
[10] Bing Hu , Hong-mei An , Ke-ping Shen , Qin Du. Senescence-inducing effects of Chinese herbal medicine Tenglong Buzhong Decoction on human colon carcinoma LS-174-T cells and the mechanism. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine, 2010, 8(11): 1048-1052