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Front. Psychiatry | doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00102

Antidepressant-like effects of acupuncture-Insights from DNA methylation and histone modifications of brain-derived neurotrophic factor

  • 1School of Acupuncture-Moxibustion and Tuina, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, China
  • 2School of Science, Beijing Technology and Business University, China

Sensitive and stable biomarkers that facilitate depression detection and monitor the antidepressant efficiency are currently unavailable. Thus, the objective is to investigate the potential of DNA methylation and histone modifications of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in monitoring severity and antidepressive effects of acupuncture. The depression rat model was imitated by social isolation and chronic unpredicted mild stress (CUMS). The expression of serum BDNF was detected by ELISA, the hippocampal BDNF, acH3K9 and HDAC2 by WB, the hippocampal mRNA of BDNF by RT-PCR. The DNA methylation patterns of the promoter I of BDNF was detected by MS-PCR. We investigated that the expression of BDNF in serum and hippocampus were significantly down-regulated compared with controls. The same trend was found in mRNA of BDNF. Notably, acupuncture reversed the downregulation of BDNF in serum and hippocampus and mRNA of BDNF compared with model group. Acupuncture reversed the CUMS-induced downregulation of hippocampal acH3K9. On the contrary, the CUMS-induced upregulation of hippocampal HDAC2 in model group was significantly reversed by acupuncture. Collectively, The antidepressant effect of acupuncture might be mediated by regulating the DNA methylation and histone modifications of BDNF, which may represent novel biomaker for detection of depression and monitoring severity and antidepressive effects.

Keywords: Acupuncture, Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), Depression, DNA Methylation, histone modifications.

Received: 27 Oct 2017; Accepted: 14 Mar 2018.

Edited by:

Gianluca Serafini, Dipartimento di Neuroscienze e Organi di Senso, Ospedale San Martino (IRCCS), Italy

Reviewed by:

Yogesh Dwivedi, University of Alabama at Birmingham, United States
Jianyou Guo, Institute of Psychology (CAS), China  

Copyright: © 2018 Jiang, Zhang, Lu, Meng, Sun, Yang, Zhao and Bao. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Tuya Bao, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, School of Acupuncture-Moxibustion and Tuina, Beijing, 100029, China,