IntroductionPregnant women exposed to tobacco smoke predispose the offspring to many adverse consequences including an altered lung development and function. There is no effective therapeutic intervention to block the effects of smoke exposure on the developing lung. Clinical and animal studies demonstrate that acupuncture can modulate a variety of pathophysiological processes, including those involving the respiratory system; however, whether acupuncture affects the lung damage caused by perinatal smoke exposure is not known.
MethodsTo determine the effect of acupuncture on perinatal nicotine exposure on the developing lung, pregnant rat dams were administered (1) saline, (2) nicotine, or (3) nicotine + electroacupuncture (EA). Nicotine was administered (1 mg/kg subcutaneously) once a day and EA was applied to both "Zusanli" (ST 36) points. Both interventions were administered from gestational day 6 to postnatal day 21 (PND21), following which pups were sacrificed. Lungs, blood, and brain were collected to examine markers of lung injury, repair, and hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis.
ResultsConcomitant EA application blocked nicotine-induced changes in lung morphology, lung peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ and wingless-int signaling, two key lung developmental signaling pathways, hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (hypothalamic corticotropic releasing hormone and lung glucocorticoid receptor levels), and plasma β-endorphin levels.
ConclusionsElectroacupuncture blocks the nicotine-induced changes in lung developmental signaling pathways and the resultant myogenic lung phenotype, known to be present in the affected offspring. We conclude that EA is a promising novel intervention against the smoke exposed lung damage to the developing lung.