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2023, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (13): 2116-2123

Methods, technologies and future of Chinese medicine modulation of cellular autophagy in the treatment of spinal cord injury

Wang Yaxin, Lin Yican, Guo Yinuo, Zhang Bo, Ma Yuying, He Xiaoping   

  1. Hebei Key Laboratory of Chinese Medicine Research on Cardio-cerebrovascular Disease, Hebei University of Chinese Medicine, Shijiazhuang 050091, Hebei Province, China

  • Received:2022-01-10 Accepted:2022-03-10 Online:2023-05-08 Published:2022-08-12

  • Contact: He Xiaoping, Master, Hebei Key Laboratory of Chinese Medicine Research on Cardio-cerebrovascular Disease, Hebei University of Chinese Medicine, Shijiazhuang 050091, Hebei Province, China

  • About author:Wang Yaxin, Hebei Key Laboratory of Chinese Medicine Research on Cardio-cerebrovascular Disease, Hebei University of Chinese Medicine, Shijiazhuang 050091, Hebei Province, China

  • Supported by:

    a grant from Hebei Provincial Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, No. 2022105 (to HXP); a grant from Hebei Provincial Health Commission, No. 20221046 (to HXP); Yanzhao Medical Research Project, No. YZYX2021006 (to HXP)


Abstract: BACKGROUND: Traditional Chinese medicine therapies such as traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture have shown good effects on the treatment of spinal cord injury by modulating autophagy, and gradually occupy an important position in the treatment of spinal cord injury.
OBJECTIVE: To summarize the research progress addressing the regulation of cellular autophagy for treating spinal cord injury using Chinese medicine.
METHODS: The PubMed database was searched with “spinal cord injury, autophagy, traditional Chinese medicine, signal” as the main search terms. CNKI database was searched with “spinal cord injury, autophagy, traditional Chinese medicine, signal pathway” as the main search terms. The search period was from January 2014 to January 2022. Irrelevant and repetitive articles were excluded and 72 articles that met the criteria were included in the review.
RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: (1) Regarding the traditional Chinese medicine mechanism and treatment of spinal cord injury, a series of symptoms in the early stage of spinal cord injury are often caused by the damage of the Directing Vessel, which is strongly associated with the production of qi stagnation and blood stasis after the damage, so the treatment can be carried out to activate blood circulation and remove blood stasis and the Directing Vessel. (2) The traditional Chinese medicine theory of autophagy is mainly associated with “yin and yang” and “qi and blood”. According to different diseases, the identification of internal organs is mainly based on the spleen, liver, and kidney. (3) Numerous experimental studies have confirmed that traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture can modulate the expression of cellular autophagy proteins and signaling pathways and can effectively suppress the inflammatory response after spinal cord injury, which is conducive to reducing the inflammatory response after spinal cord injury and protecting spinal cord neurons, and improving motor and neuronal damage after injury. (4) Autophagy regulation by traditional Chinese medicine for spinal cord injury is a current research hotspot. Nevertheless, most of the studies are at the stage of theory, and the specific action mechanisms of some methods are not yet clear. (5) The research concerning autophagy is less in the field of traditional Chinese medicine compared with western medicine. In particular, the scientific research on the treatment of spinal cord injury by regulating autophagy should be strengthened. (6) In the future, it is hoped that researchers will formulate typical traditional Chinese medicine, combine with acupuncture and western medicine, and take targeted experimental studies to find effective traditional Chinese medicine methods or even combined Chinese and western therapies for the treatment of spinal cord injury.
Key words: cellular autophagy, spinal cord injury, signaling pathway, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, nerve, mechanism, Yin and Yang, qi and blood, review


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