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German scientists have discovered that peripheral blood cells taken from patients that have received acupuncture for spinal cord lesions can differentiate into neuron-like cells. The investigators took peripheral blood samples before and after acupuncture treatment, extracted the cells, and grew them ex vivo in cell culture with four different cytokine combinations. After four weeks in culture supplemented with nerve growth factor (NGF), the cells developed a neuron-like appearance, with thin elongated processes around a central nucleus. Cells cultured with brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) developed dendritic morphology, and after changing the culture medium to neural stem cell (NSC) medium, these cells further developed axonal terminals or synapses.These morphological changes were only inducible in cultures that contained cells derived from peripheral blood after acupuncture treatment, and not from cells that had been obtained at baseline before the first acupuncture session.

Acupuncture-induced differentiation of stem cells into neuron-like cells in patients with spinal cord injuries. Acupunct Med. 2019 Mar 22:964528419832616

 

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