August 22, 2017: Effects of electroacupuncture on depression and the production of glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor compared with fluoxetine: a randomized controlled pilot study
Glial cells provide nutrition, protection, and support to neurons. In depressive disorder (DD) patients, research shows that glial cell density is reduced in patients that have DD. Previous research shows that glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (also known as GDNF, a natural substance capable of stimulating glial cell production) reduction plays an important role in the development of DD. Sun H et al. did a randomized controlled pilot study on the effects of electro-acupuncture on increasing serotonin levels compared to the use of fluoxetine, a commonly-used serotonin reuptake inhibitor. The results were published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in September 2013. Acupuncturists treated 2 groups of patients; one group received six weeks of electro-acupuncture, five times a week, on the acupoints of (DU20) and (ST36). The other group received electro-acupuncture for six weeks, five times a week on the acupoints (LR3), (SP6), (PC6), and (HT7). A third group received daily 20mg doses of oral fluoxetine for 6 weeks. Results show that the electro-acupuncture and the oral fluoxetine groups had similar anti-depression effects on patients with DD. Both the electro-acupuncture and the oral fluoxetine was able to restore normal concentrations of GDNF in the blood of DD patients. However, the patients who received electro-acupuncture showed faster onset times, better response rates, and better improvement rates compared to the fluoxetine.