Effects of Acupuncture on LIF and IL-12 in Rats of Implantation Failure

Gui J et al, Am J Reprod Immunol, 2012; 67: 383–390
American Journal of Reproductive Immunology


Five interesting papers looking at the effect of acupuncture on implantation and miscarriage have been published by a group in Wuhan, China. Earlier papers showed that acupuncture improves implantation and pregnancy rates significantly in rats. The latest  trial looks at the mechanism for this improvement. They examined the effect of acupuncture on the immune environment of rat uteri which had been treated with Mifepristone (a progesterone receptor antagonist used to cause abortion, and commonly known as the drug RU486). When these rats were given acupuncture the immune factors important for implantation improved remarkably, to the levels of the control rats that did not have the abortion drug treatment, indicating an important role for acupuncture in supporting the ideal environment for implantation and the development of the placenta.


Acupuncture has a positive effect on implantation but the mechanism is still not clear, so the aim of the experiment is to explore the possible role that acupuncture plays in implantation.

Method of study: Early pregnant rats were randomized into normal group (N), group treated with mifepristone (M), acupuncture treatment group (A), and progestin treatment group (P). The model of blastocyst implantation obstacle in groups M, A, and P was established with mifepristone. Bilateral ‘Housanli’ and ‘Sanyinjiao’ were needled in group A. The expression of interleukin (IL)-12, leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), LIFR protein, and mRNA in endometrium were detected.

Results: Positivity of the protein expression of IL-12, LIF, and LIFR in the endometrium was significantly higher in groups N, A, and P; positivity of the mRNA of IL-12 and LIF in the endometrium was significantly higher in groups N, A, and P.

Conclusion: Acupuncture could improve the poor receptive state of endometrium by promoting LIF and IL-12 secretion to improve blastocyst implantation.