Unanticipated Insights into Biomedicine from the Study of Acupuncture

Publication Harvard University

MacPherson Hugh, Hammerschlag Richard, Coeytaux Remy R., Davis Robert T., Harris Richard E., Kong Jiang-Ti, Langevin Helene M., Lao Lixing, Milley Ryan J., Napadow Vitaly, Schnyer Rosa N., Stener-Victorin Elisabet, Witt Claudia M., and Wayne Peter M.

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. February 2016, 22(2): 101-107


Acute inflammation is accompanied from its outset by the release of specialized pro-resolving mediators (SPMs), including resolvins, that orchestrate the resolution of local inflammation. We showed earlier that, in rats with subcutaneous inflammation of the back induced by carrageenan, stretching for 10 min twice daily reduced inflammation and improved pain, 2 weeks after carrageenan injection. In this study, we hypothesized that stretching of connective tissue activates local pro-resolving mechanisms within the tissue in the acute phase of inflammation. In rats injected with carrageenan and randomized to stretch versus no stretch for 48 h, stretching reduced inflammatory lesion thickness and neutrophil count, and increased resolvin (RvD1) concentrations within lesions. Furthermore, subcutaneous resolvin injection mimicked the effect of stretching. In ex vivo experiments, stretching of connective tissue reduced the migration of neutrophils and increased tissue RvD1 concentration. These results demonstrate a direct mechanical impact of stretching on inflammation-regulation mechanisms within connective tissue.