Objectively measuring effects of electro-acupuncture in parkinsonian rhesus monkeys

Rui Zhang, Anders H. Andersen, Peter A. Hardy, Eric Forman, April Evans, Yi Ai, Jin Yue, Guihua Yue, Don M. Gash, Richard Grondin, Zhiming Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Acupuncture has increasingly been used as an alternative therapy for treatment of Parkinson's disease (PD). However, the efficacy of acupunture for PD still remains unclear. The present study was designed to objectively and safely monitor anti-parkinsonian effects of electroacupuncture (EA) and brain activity in nonhuman primates modeling human PD. Six middle-aged rhesus monkeys were extensively studied by a computerized behavioral testing battery and by pharmacological MRI (phMRI) scans with specific dopaminergic drug stimulations. All animals were evaluated for behavior and phMRI responses under normal, parkinsonian, parkinsonian with EA treatment and parkinsonian after EA treatment conditions. Stable parkinsonian features were observed in all animals prior to entering the EA study and positive responses to levodopa (L-dopa) challenge were also seen in all animals. The results demonstrated that chronic EA treatments could significantly improve the movement speed and the fine motor performance time during the period of EA treatments, and the effectiveness of EA could be detected even 3 months after the EA treatment. The phMRI data revealed that chronic EA treatments could alter neuronal activity in the striatum, primary motor cortex (M1), cingulate gyrus and global pallidus externa (GPe) in the ipsilateral hemisphere to MPTP lesions. As seen in the changes of parkinsonian features, the residual effects of phMRI responses to apomorphine (APO) challenge could also be found in the aforementioned areas. The results strongly suggest that anti-parkinsonian effects of EA can be objectively assessed, and the method used in the present study could be translated into the human clinic with some minor modifications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12-19
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Research
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by UPPHS NIH grant NS50242 (ZZ). We also thank Drs. Feng Zhao, a neuroscientist from the Capital Medical University, and Xiaotong Fan, a Neurosurgeon from the Xuan Wu Hospital, Capital Medical University Beijing, China for their technical assistance throughout this study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.


  • Behavioral
  • Dopamine
  • Electro-acupuncture
  • Parkinson's disease
  • Phmri

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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