Postoperative cognitive dysfunction (POCD) is a common sequela following surgery and hospitalization. The prevention and management of POCD are important during clinical practice. POCD more commonly affects elderly patients who have undergone major surgery and can result in major decline in quality of life for both patients and their families. Acupuncture has been suggested as an effective intervention for many neurological disorders. In recent years, there are increasing interest in the use of acupuncture to prevent and treat POCD. In this review, we summarized the clinical and preclinical evidence of acupuncture on POCD using a narrative approach and discussed the potential mechanisms involved. The experimental details and findings of studies were summarized in tables and analyzed. Most of the clinical studies suggested that acupuncture before surgery could reduce the incidence of POCD and reduce the levels of systematic inflammatory markers. However, their reliability is limited by methodological flaws. Animal studies showed that acupuncture reduced cognitive impairment and the associated pathology after various types of surgery. It is possible that acupuncture modulates inflammation, oxidative stress, synaptic changes, and other cellular events to mitigate POCD. In conclusion, acupuncture is a potential intervention for POCD. More clinical studies with good research design are required to confirm its effectiveness. At the same time, findings from animal studies will help reveal the protective mechanisms, in which systematic inflammation is likely to play a major role.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Cell Biology