J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2018 Jun 4.

Homing of the Stem Cells from the Acupoint ST-36 to the Site of a Spinal Cord Injury: A Preliminary Study.

Jung SJ1, Kook MG2, Kim S3, Kang KS4, Soh KS5.

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Homing of stem cells (SCs) to desired targets such as injured tissues remains a lingering problem in cell-based therapeutics. Studies on the biodistribution of intravenously administered SCs have shown the inefficacy of blood vessels as the homing path because most of the injected SCs are captured in the capillary beds of the lungs. We considered an alternative administration method utilizing the acupuncture meridians or the primo vascular system (PVS). We injected SCs at the acupoint Zusanli (ST-36) below the knee of a nude mouse with a spinal cord injured at the thoracic T9-10 vertebrae. The SCs migrated from the ST-36, along the sciatic nerve, the lumbar 4-5, and then the spinal cord to the injury point T9-10. The SCs were not randomly scattered but were rather well aligned like marathon race runners, along the PVS route toward the injury point. We observed the SCs at 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, and 15 hours after injection. The fast runners among the injected SCs took about 6 hours to reach the sciatic nerve, about 9 hours to reach the lumbar 4-5 and about 15 hours to reach the injury point T9-10.