Copyright ©The Author(s) 2020. Published by Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.
World J Gastroenterol. Jun 21, 2020; 26(23): 3182-3200
Published online Jun 21, 2020. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v26.i23.3182
Neuromechanism of acupuncture regulating gastrointestinal motility
Zhi Yu
Zhi Yu, Key Laboratory of Acupuncture and Medicine Research of Ministry of Education, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing 210023, Jiangsu Province, China
Author contributions: Yu Z wrote and revised the manuscript.
Supported by National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 81574071, No. 81673883, and No. 81873238; and Leading Talents of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Jiangsu Province (Second Batch), No. SLJ0225.
Conflict-of-interest statement: The author declares no conflict of interest.
Open-Access: This article is an open-access article that was selected by an in-house editor and fully peer-reviewed by external reviewers. It is distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See:
Corresponding author: Zhi Yu, PhD, Lecturer, Key Laboratory of Acupuncture and Medicine Research of Ministry of Education, Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, No. 138 Xianlin Road, Nanjing 210023, Jiangsu Province, China.
Received: December 30, 2019
Peer-review started: December 30, 2019
First decision: January 16, 2020
Revised: April 1, 2020
Accepted: May 23, 2020
Article in press: May 23, 2020
Published online: June 21, 2020

Acupuncture has been used in China for thousands of years and has become more widely accepted by doctors and patients around the world. A large number of clinical studies and animal experiments have confirmed that acupuncture has a benign adjustment effect on gastrointestinal (GI) movement; however, the mechanism of this effect is unclear, especially in terms of neural mechanisms, and there are still many areas that require further exploration. This article reviews the recent data on the neural mechanism of acupuncture on GI movements. We summarize the neural mechanism of acupuncture on GI movement from four aspects: acupuncture signal transmission, the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, the enteric nervous system, and the central nervous system.

Keywords: Acupuncture, Gastrointestinal motility, Neuromechanism, Afferent fibers, Autonomic nervous system, Central nervous system

Core tip: Acupuncture has been applied in the treatment of gastrointestinal (GI) dysmotility diseases worldwide for decades. However, its underlying neuromechanisms in regulating GI motility have not been fully established. The neural regulation of GI function depends on its endogenous and exogenous nervous system. This review discusses the mechanisms of acupuncture on GI motility from various perspectives including the afferent signals, autonomic nervous system, as well as central nervous system based on its physical/pathological neural control.