Basic Study
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World J Gastroenterol. Jul 28, 2022; 28(28): 3644-3665
Published online Jul 28, 2022. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v28.i28.3644
Mechanism of electroacupuncture and herb-partitioned moxibustion on ulcerative colitis animal model: A study based on proteomics
Qin Qi, Rui Zhong, Ya-Nan Liu, Chen Zhao, Yan Huang, Yuan Lu, Zhe Ma, Han-Dan Zheng, Lu-Yi Wu
Qin Qi, Ya-Nan Liu, Yan Huang, Yuan Lu, Zhe Ma, Han-Dan Zheng, Lu-Yi Wu, Yueyang Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200437, China
Rui Zhong, Shanghai QiGong Research Institute, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 200030, China
Chen Zhao, School of Acupuncture, Moxibustion and Tuina, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 201203, China
Author contributions: Wu LY, Huang Y and Qi Q conceived and designed this study; Zhong R, Liu YN, Ma Z and Zheng HD performed the animal experiments, acquired and analyzed the data; Qi Q wrote the main manuscript; Liu YN and Ma Z prepared the figures and tables; Lu Y gave guidance to the manuscript writing; Zhao C, Huang Y and Wu LY revised and improved the manuscript; and all authors reviewed and approved the final version of this manuscript.
Supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China No. 81973955, 82004475 and 82174501; Shanghai Clinical Research Center for Acupuncture and Moxibustion No. 20MC1920500; Clinical Key Specialty Construction Foundation of Shanghai No. shslczdzk04701; Natural Science Foundation of Shanghai No. 21ZR1460200.
Institutional animal care and use committee statement: All animal experiments were performed according to the protocols approved by the Animal Ethics Committee of the Experimental Animal Center of Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Conflict-of-interest statement: All the authors report no relevant conflicts of interest for this article.
Data sharing statement: No additional data are available.
ARRIVE guidelines statement: The authors have read the ARRIVE guidelines, and the manuscript has been prepared and revised according to the ARRIVE guidelines.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Corresponding author: Lu-Yi Wu, PhD, Associate Professor, Yueyang Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, No. 110 Ganhe Road, Hongkou District, Shanghai 200437,
Received: September 3, 2021
Peer-review started: September 3, 2021
First decision: November 7, 2021
Revised: November 19, 2021
Accepted: June 24, 2022
Article in press: June 24, 2022
Published online: July 28, 2022
Research background

Ulcerative colitis (UC) is a chronic, nonspecific intestinal inflammatory disease with unclear etiology. Our previous studies have confirmed that acupuncture and moxibustion is effective in treating UC, but the mechanisms of treatment is still not completely clarified. Proteomic technology has revealed a variety of biological markers related to immunity and inflammation in UC, which provide new insights and directions for the study of mechanism of acupuncture and moxibustion treatment of UC.

Research motivation

The mechanisms of UC and the therapeutic targets of acupuncture and moxibustion treatment are complicated, and whether acupuncture and moxibustion play a therapeutic role in UC by regulating proteome changes remains unclear.

Research objectives

The present study aims to investigate the underlying mechanism of electroacupuncture (EA) and moxibustion on UC rats by using isotope-labeled relative and absolute quantification (iTRAQ) proteomics technology.

Research methods

Male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into the normal (N) group, the DSS-induced UC model (M) group, the herb-partitioned moxibustion (HM) group, and the EA group. 3% DSS was used to establish the UC rat model except for the N group, and HM and EA at the Tianshu (bilateral) and Qihai acupoints were performed respectively. Haematoxylin and eosin staining was used for morphological evaluation of colon tissues. iTRAQ and liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry were performed for proteome analysis of the colon tissues, followed by bioinformatics analysis and protein-protein interaction networks establishment of differentially expressed proteins (DEPs) between groups. Then western blot was used for verification of selected DEPs.

Research results

Our study revealed that HM and EA could regulate the expression of multiple proteins in colon of DSS-induced UC model rat. The DEPs were involved in various biological processes such as biological regulation, immune system progression and in multiple pathways including natural killer cell mediated cytotoxicity, intestinal immune network for immunoglobulin A production, and FcγR-mediated phagocytosis. Network analysis revealed that multiple pathways for the DEPs of each group were involved in protein-protein interactions. Subsequent verification of selected DEPs [synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2A, nuclear cap binding protein subunit 1, carbamoyl phosphate synthetase 1, cytochrome c oxidase subunit 4 isoform 1 (Cox4i1), ATP synthase beta subunit precursor (Atp5F1), doublecortin like kinase 3] by western blot confirmed the reliability of the iTRAQ data.

Research conclusions

HM and EA might regulate immune-related pathways by regulating the expression of ATP5L, Atp5f1, Cox4i1 that associated with oxidative phosphorylation pathways, thereby alleviating colonic inflammation of DSS-induced UC rats.

Research perspectives

The present study revealed the possible molecular mechanisms of acupuncture and moxibustion treatment on UC, it may provide new light on clinical therapy of acupuncture and moxibustion treatment of UC.