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Acupuncture therapy in treating migraine: results of a magnetic resonance spectroscopy imaging study

Authors Gu T, Lin L, Jiang Y, Chen J, D’Arcy RCN, Chen M, Song X

Received 16 January 2018

Accepted for publication 26 February 2018

Published 27 April 2018 Volume 2018:11 Pages 889—900

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S162696

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Andrew Yee

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Michael Schatman

Tao Gu,1,2 Lei Lin,3 Yun Jiang,4 Juan Chen,1 Ryan CN D’Arcy,2,5,6 Min Chen,1 Xiaowei Song2,5,6

1Department of Radiology, Beijing Hospital, National Center of Gerontology, Beijing, China; 2Simon Fraser University ImageTech Laboratory, Surrey Memorial Hospital, Surrey, BC, Canada; 3Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Beijing Hospital, National Centre of Gerontology, Beijing, China; 4Department of Neurology, Beijing Hospital, National Centre of Gerontology, Beijing, China; 5Department of Applied Sciences and Computing Science, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada; 6Health Sciences and Innovation, Surrey Memorial Hospital, Fraser Health Authority, Surrey, BC, Canada

Background: Acupuncture has been proven to be effective as an alternative therapy in treating migraine, but the pathophysiological mechanisms of the treatment remain unclear. This study investigated possible neurochemical responses to acupuncture treatment.
Patients and methods: Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy imaging was used to investigate biochemical levels pre- and post-acupuncture treatment. Participants (N=45) included subjects diagnosed with: 1) migraine without aura; 2) cervicogenic headache; and 3) healthy controls. Participants in the two patient groups received verum acupuncture using acupoints that target migraine without aura but not cervicogenic headache, while the healthy controls received a sham treatment. All participants had magnetic resonance spectroscopy scans before and after the acupuncture therapy. Levels of brain metabolites were examined in relation to clinical headache assessment scores.
Results: A significant increase in N-acetylaspartate/creatine was observed in bilateral thalamus in migraine without aura after the acupuncture treatment, which was significantly correlated with the headache intensity score.
Conclusion: The data demonstrate brain biochemical changes underlying the effect of acupuncture treatment of migraine.

Keywords: acupuncture, metabolites, migraine, magnetic resonance spectroscopy imaging, brain, pain transmission pathways

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