The improvement of immunity to vaccination has historically focused on manipulation of antigen presentation rather than the host. Immune modulation by stimulating specific acupuncture points along the Meridian System has been practiced in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The purpose of this study was to quantitatively determine whether acupoint vaccination, in which vaccine is administered at an acupuncture point in dogs, has the potential to enhance the immune response.
A randomized controlled trial was conducted to compare the effectiveness of acupoint vaccination versus a conventional method, based on humoral immune response in dogs given Canine Distemper Vaccine (CDV). One hundred client-owned dogs were admitted to the study with following characteristics: (1) passed a routine physical exam, (2) aged between 1 and 10 years old, (3) had no history of chronic disease, and (4) were not on immunomodulating medications. Dogs were randomly assigned to either the Acupuncture group inoculated at the acupoint Governing Vessel (GV)-14, or to the Control group inoculated conventionally at a non-acupuncture site. Mean changes from Day0 to Day14 of the response to CDV vaccination, measured by serum neutralization (SN) titers with log-transformation for reducing outlier effects, were compared between groups. No significant difference was found between groups in age, weight, or sex (all p >0.2). Both groups had significant increases of CDV SN titer post-vaccination (p < 0.001). The mean increase in Acupuncture group (0.72; SD = 0.79) was significantly greater than that of the Control group (0.36; SD = 0.67); p = 0.019. Inference on percentage of change in raw SN titer data further revealed that the effects in the Acupuncture group was significantly greater than the Control group (242% vs. 83%; p = 0.02).
This study demonstrated that Acupoint vaccination at GV-14 resulted in a significantly elevated humoral immune response to CDV vaccine compared to Controls, which suggests the potential of acupoint vaccination to enhance the immune response.