Background: Current research findings demonstrate that acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medicine, has beneficial effects on several acute and chronic infectious and inflammatory diseases. Acupuncture promotes tissue healing and regulates immune response in various disease conditions. Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is a parasitic disease caused by protozoan from genus Leishmania. Acupuncture is supposed to accelerate healing of CL because of common mechanisms involved in the cure of the CL lesions.
Materials and Methods: 60 BALB/c mice were experimentally infected with L. major strain MRHO/IR/75/ER and divided into three groups: (1) Treatment group received acupuncture 2 times a week for 5 weeks (10 sessions) with intraperitoneal diazepam as a sedative agent. (2) Diazepam control group only received diazepam the same as the treatment group. (3) Control group did not receive any intervention. Size of the lesions was measured before the experiment, on session 5 and 10 and 4 weeks after the experiment. Parasite burden was evaluated by microscopic assay as well as quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction technique.
Results: Size of the lesions decreased significantly on session 5 in treated group in comparison with session 0 (P = 0.02) while the size of the lesions increased significantly in two control groups on session 5 and 4 weeks after treatment (P = 0.04 and P = 0.01 respectively). Mean parasite burden did not show a significant difference between or within groups on session 0 and 10 by any methods.
Conclusions: This investigation showed that acupuncture decreased size of the CL lesions by session 5 in the BALB/c mice model, but did not cause a significant reduction in parasite burden.