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Jae-Hong Kim and Myoung-Rae Cho contributed equally to this work.
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Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is an intermediate state between normal aging and Alzheimer’s disease, which is the world’s most common form of dementia. It is important to identify early and easily available interventions to delay the progression of MCI to Alzheimer’s disease. Acupuncture has been reported to improve the clinical outcomes of MCI treatment. Acupuncture is a complex intervention, involving both specific and non-specific factors associated with therapeutic benefits. Therefore, we intend to obtain basic data for developing an optimal acupuncture treatment for MCI by comparing the effects of different acupuncture treatment methods on cognitive function in MCI patients.
This study will be a prospective, outcome-assessor-blinded, parallel-arm, single-center (DongShin University Gwangju Korean Medicine Hospital, Republic of Korea), randomized controlled clinical trial. Thirty-two participants with MCI will be randomized in equal numbers to four groups (basic acupuncture (BA), acupoint specificity (AS), needle duration (ND), or electroacupuncture (EA)) and receive acupuncture treatment once per day, 3 days/week for 8 weeks. The BA and ND groups will receive acupuncture treatment for 30 and 20 min, respectively, at Baihui (GV20), Sishencong (EX-HN1), Fengchi (GB20), and Shenting (GV24). The EA group will receive electroacupuncture treatment at the same acupoints for 30 min. The AS group will receive acupuncture treatment at GV20, EX-HN1, GB20, GV24, and Taixi (KI3) for 30 min. The outcome measured will be scores on the Korean version of the Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale—cognitive subscale, the Korean version of the Montreal Cognitive Assessment, the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression scale, the Korean Activities of Daily Living scale, the Korean Instrumental Activities of Daily Living scale, and the European Quality of Life Five Dimension Five Level scale. All scores will be recorded before intervention, 8 weeks after the first intervention, and 12 weeks after completing the intervention.
Four acupuncture protocols will be assessed and compared as potential MCI treatments. This study is expected to provide data to be used in developing an optimal acupuncture method for MCI treatment.