To observe the effect of moxibustion and electroacupuncture (EA) stimulation of "Tianshu" (ST 25) and "Qihai" (CV 6) on Th 1/Th 2 immune balance in rats with experimental ulcerative colitis (UC).
The UC rats were randomly allocated to model group, moxibustion group and EA group (n=10 in each group). Another 10 rats were used as the control group. The UC model was established by injection of fresh colonic mucosal tissue-made antigen emulsifier (purified mucosal supernate plus complete Freund's adjuvant, 3.5 mg on day one, and 7 mg thereafter) into the bilateral toes, inguinal grooves, back, and the abdominal cavity on day 1, 10, 17 and 24, respectively. Medicinal paste (containing Cortex Cinnamomi,Flos Carthami, etc.)-separated moxibustion or EA (200 Hz, 2 mA) was applied to ST 25 and CV 6 for 20 min, once daily for 14 days. The mRNA expression levels of interferon-γ (INF-γ), IL-12, IL-4 and IL-10 in colon tissues were detected using quantitative RT-PCR and their content determined using enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The colon tissue cell ratios of CD 4+ INF-γ+ and CD 4+ IL-4+ were analyzed by flow cytometry.
Compared with the control group, the mRNA and contents of colonic INF-γ and IL-12 and the ratio of CD 4+ INF-γ+ and CD 4+ IL-4+ were significantly higher in the model group (P<0.05), and the IL-4 and IL-10 mRNA expression and contents considerably lower after UC modeling (P<0.05). Following medicinal paste-separated moxibustion and EA interventions, the increased INF-γ and IL-12 mRNA and contents and the increased ratio of CD 4+ INF-γ+ and CD 4+ IL-4+, and the decreased IL-4 and IL-10 mRNA and contents were reversed (P<0.05). No significant differences were found between the moxibustion and EA groups in the levels of all the indexes (P>0.05).
Both medicinal paste-separated moxibustion and EA interventions may regulate the balance between Th 1 and Th 2 cells in the colonic tissues of UC rats, suggesting an improvement of the immune function by down-regulating INF-γ and IL-12 levels and up-regulating IL-4 and IL-10 levels.