Table_3_Brain Activities Responding to Acupuncture at ST36 (zusanli) in Healthy Subjects: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Task-Based fMRI Stu.docx (17.07 kB)

Table_3_Brain Activities Responding to Acupuncture at ST36 (zusanli) in Healthy Subjects: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Task-Based fMRI Studies.docx

Download (17.07 kB)
posted on 2022-07-29, 14:02 authored by Haoming Huang, Xiaomei Yue, Xi Huang, Wenjie Long, Shangyu Kang, Yawen Rao, Jingchun Zeng, Junling Zuo, Lin Wang, Hongjuan Li, Yeqing Wang, Shijun Qiu, Weixuan Zhao

Stomach 36 (ST36, zusanli) is one of the important acupoints in acupuncture. Despite clinical functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies of ST36 acupuncture, the brain activities and the neural mechanism following acupuncture at ST36 remain unclear.


Literature searches were conducted on online databases, including MEDLINE, Embase, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, China National Knowledge Infrastructure, Wanfang database, WeiPu database, and China Biology Medicine, for task-based fMRI studies of acupuncture at ST36 in healthy subjects. Brain regions activated by ST36 acupuncture were systematically evaluated and subjected to seed-based d mapping meta-analysis. Subgroup analysis was conducted on control procedures, manual acupuncture, electrical acupuncture (EA), and acupuncture-specific activations. Meta-regression analysis was performed to explore the effects of needle retention time on brain activities following ST36 acupuncture stimulation. The activated brain regions were further decoded and mapped on large-scale functional networks to further decipher the clinical relevance of acupuncturing at ST36.


A total of sixteen studies, involving a total of 401 right-handed healthy participants, that satisfied the inclusion criteria were included in the present meta-analysis. Meta-analysis showed that acupuncturing on ST36 positively activates the opercular part of the right inferior frontal gyrus (IFG.R), left superior temporal gyrus (STG.L), and right median cingulate/paracingulate gyri (MCG.R) regions. Needle retention time in an acupuncture session positively correlates with the activation of the left olfactory cortex, as shown in meta-regression analysis. Subgroup analysis revealed that EA stimulation may be a source of heterogeneity in the pooled results. Functional network mappings showed that the activated areas were mapped to the auditory network and salience network. Further functional decoding analysis showed that acupuncture on ST36 was associated with pain, secondary somatosensory, sound and language processing, and mood regulation.


Acupuncture at ST36 in healthy individuals positively activates the opercular part of IFG.R, STG.L, and MCG.R. The left olfactory cortex may exhibit positive needle retention time-dependent activities. Our findings may have clinical implications for acupuncture in analgesia, language processing, and mood disorders.

Systematic Review Registration


Usage metrics

    Frontiers in Neurology



    Ref. manager