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Journal of Integrative Medicine: Volume 16, 2018   Issue 1,  Pages: 26-33

DOI: 10.1016/j.joim.2017.12.002
Systematic Review
Brain functional connectivity network studies of acupuncture: a systematic review on resting-state fMRI
1. Rong-lin Cai (Graduate School of Anhui University of Chinese Medicine, Hefei 230012, Anhui Province, China )
2. Guo-ming Shen (Graduate School of Anhui University of Chinese Medicine, Hefei 230012, Anhui Province, China E-mail: shengm_66@163.com)
3. Hao Wang (School of Integrated Traditional Chinese & Western Medicine, Anhui University of Chinese Medicine, Hefei 230012, Anhui Province, China )
4. Yuan-yuan Guan (Graduate School of Anhui University of Chinese Medicine, Hefei 230012, Anhui Province, China )

Abstract

Background
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a novel method for studying the changes of brain networks due to acupuncture treatment. In recent years, more and more studies have focused on the brain functional connectivity network of acupuncture stimulation.
Objective
To offer an overview of the different influences of acupuncture on the brain functional connectivity network from studies using resting-state fMRI.
Search strategy
The authors performed a systematic search according to PRISMA guidelines. The database PubMed was searched from January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2016 with restriction to human studies in English language.
Inclusion criteria
Electronic searches were conducted in PubMed using the keywords “acupuncture” and “neuroimaging” or “resting-state fMRI” or “functional connectivity”.
Data extraction and analysis
Selection of included articles, data extraction and methodological quality assessments were respectively conducted by two review authors.
Results
Forty-four resting-state fMRI studies were included in this systematic review according to inclusion criteria. Thirteen studies applied manual acupuncture vs. sham, four studies applied electro-acupuncture vs. sham, two studies also compared transcutaneous electrical acupoint stimulation vs. sham, and nine applied sham acupoint as control. Nineteen studies with a total number of 574 healthy subjects selected to perform fMRI only considered healthy adult volunteers. The brain functional connectivity of the patients had varying degrees of change. Compared with sham acupuncture, verum acupuncture could increase default mode network and sensorimotor network connectivity with pain-, affective- and memory-related brain areas. It has significantly greater connectivity of genuine acupuncture between the periaqueductal gray, anterior cingulate cortex, left posterior cingulate cortex, right anterior insula, limbic/paralimbic and precuneus compared with sham acupuncture. Some research had also shown that acupuncture could adjust the limbic-paralimbic-neocortical network, brainstem, cerebellum, subcortical and hippocampus brain areas.
Conclusion
It can be presumed that the functional connectivity network is closely related to the mechanism of acupuncture, and central integration plays a critical role in the acupuncture mechanism.

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Please cite this article as:
Rong-lin Cai, Guo-ming Shen, Hao Wang, Yuan-yuan Guan. Brain functional connectivity network studies of acupuncture: a systematic review on resting-state fMRI. J Integr Med. 2018; 16(1): 26-33.
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