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Acupuncture Combined With Curcumin Attenuates Carbon Tetrachloride-Induced Hepatic Fibrosis In Rats

Feng Zhang, Jin Ma, Yin Lu, Guang-Xia Ni, Chun-Yan Ni, Xue-Jiao Zhang, Xiao-Ping Zhang, De-Song Kong, Ai-Yun Wang, Wen-Xing Chen, Shi-Zhong Zheng

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Background Increasingly, studies demonstrate the effectiveness of acupuncture therapy against liver fibrosis. Curcumin is a natural product with antifibrotic effects, but has poor pharmacokinetic profiles. This study aimed to evaluate whether acupuncture combined with curcumin could more potently attenuate liver fibrosis in chemical intoxicated rats. Methods 60 Sprague–Dawley male rats were randomly divided into control, model, sham, acupuncture, curcumin and combination therapy groups. During the establishment of fibrosis using carbon tetrachloride (CCl4), acupuncture at LR3, LR14, BL18 and ST36 and/or curcumin treatment by mouth were performed simultaneously. After treatment, pathological indexes and histology for hepatic injury and fibrogenesis were detected. The expression of extracellular matrix (ECM) components was also determined. Results Acupuncture combined with curcumin potently protected the liver from CCl4-induced injury and fibrogenesis, as indicated by reduced levels of serum aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, hyaluronic acid, laminin and procollagen III. Combined use also led to significant liver histological improvements. Furthermore, combined use effectively inhibited ECM expression such as α-smooth muscle actin, fibronectin and α1(1) collagen. Conclusions Acupuncture treatment could significantly enhance the antifibrotic efficacy of curcumin on CCl4-induced hepatic fibrosis in rats in vivo, suggesting that a combination of acupuncture with curcumin may be exploited for the prevention of hepatic fibrosis.