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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2023, Vol. 21 ›› Issue (1): 89-98.doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2022.11.001

• Original Experimental Research • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Effects of electroacupuncture on rats with cognitive impairment: an iTRAQ-based proteomics analysis

Zhe-yan Saa,b, Jin-sen Xua,b, Xiao-hua Pana,b, Shu-xia Zhenga,b, Qian-ru Huanga,b, Long Wana,b, Xiao-xiang Zhua,b, Cai-lian Lana,b, Xiao-ran Yea,b   

  1. a Department of Meridian Research, Fujian Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Fuzhou, Fujian Province 350003, China
    b Key Laboratory of Propagated Sensation along Meridian of Fujian Province, Fuzhou, Fujian Province 350003, China
  • Received:2021-07-07 Accepted:2022-09-06 Online:2023-01-19 Published:2023-03-01
  • Contact: Xiao-hua Pan; E-mail address: Jin-sen Xu; E-mail address:


The study explores the effects of electroacupuncture (EA) at the governing vessel (GV) on proteomic changes in the hippocampus of rats with cognitive impairment.


Healthy male rats were randomly divided into 3 groups: sham, model and EA. Cognitive impairment was induced by left middle cerebral artery occlusion in the model and EA groups. Rats in the EA group were treated with EA at Shenting (GV24) and Baihui (GV20) for 7 d. Neurological deficit was scored using the Longa scale, the learning and memory ability was detected using the Morris water maze (MWM) test, and the proteomic profiling in the hippocampus was analyzed using protein-labeling technology based on the isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantitation (iTRAQ). The Western blot (WB) analysis was used to detect the proteins and validate the results of iTRAQ.


Compared with the model group, the neurological deficit score was significantly reduced, and the escape latency in the MWM test was significantly shortened, while the number of platform crossings increased in the EA group. A total of 2872 proteins were identified by iTRAQ. Differentially expressed proteins (DEPs) were identified between different groups: 92 proteins were upregulated and 103 were downregulated in the model group compared with the sham group, while 142 proteins were upregulated and 126 were downregulated in the EA group compared with the model group. Most of the DEPs were involved in oxidative phosphorylation, glycolipid metabolism and synaptic transmission. Furthermore, we also verified 4 DEPs using WB technology. Although the WB results were not exactly the same as the iTRAQ results, the expression trends of the DEPs were consistent. The upregulation of heat-shock protein β1 (Hspb1) was the highest in the EA group compared to the model group.


EA can effect proteomic changes in the hippocampus of rats with cognitive impairment. Hspb1 may be involved in the molecular mechanism by which acupuncture improves cognitive impairment.

Key words: Cerebral ischemia, Vascular cognitive impairment, Electroacupuncture, Proteomics, Isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantitation

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