Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine / 2011 / Article / Fig 3

Review Article

Acupuncture May Stimulate Anticancer Immunity via Activation of Natural Killer Cells

Figure 3

Hypothetic model of the mechanisms how acupuncture stimulates the immune system. Acupuncture stimulation of ST36 acupoint induces release of nitric oxide (NO). NO, a neurotransmiter, stimulates via the sensory nerves, spinal cord and medulla oblongata Gracile nuclceus the lateral hypothalamic area (LHA), where it promotes secretion of opiod peptides such as -endorphin. -endorphin travels via blood circulation to the spleen and other body locations containing immune cells where it binds to opiod receptors expressed on the surface of NK cells and stimulates NK cells to amplify their expression of cytotoxic molecules and consequently tumoricidal activity, and production of IFN- . This cytokine induces the expression of NK cell receptors and cytokine receptors on NK cells and perhaps cytokine secretion by other immune cells, thereby orchestrating and further amplifying anticancer immune functions.

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