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Neurosci Lett. 2010 Jun 21;477(2):61-5. doi: 10.1016/j.neulet.2010.04.025. Epub 2010 Apr 24.

Electroacupuncture enhances preproenkephalin mRNA expression in rostral ventrolateral medulla of rats.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Susan Samueli Center of Integrative Medicine, College of Medicine, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-4075, United States.


Electroacupuncture (EA) causes prolonged suppression of reflex elevations in blood pressure for at least 60min in anesthetized preparations. Thus, EA can modify sympathetic outflow and elevated blood pressure through actions in a number of hind brain regions, including the rostral ventrolateral medulla (rVLM). Since our previous data show that the opioid system plays a role in EA-related prolonged inhibition of presympathetic neuronal activity in the rVLM, we postulated that EA increases preproenkephalin (PPE) mRNA in this region, possibly for prolonged periods of time. Under alpha-chloralose anesthesia, rats received EA (1-2mA, 2Hz, 0.5ms) at P5-P6 acupoints (overlying median nerves) or sham (needle placement without electrical stimulation) for 30min. PPE mRNA in the rVLM also was evaluated in control rats that received surgery but no EA, or sham treatment. 20min, 1.5h or 4h following EA or sham treatment, PPE mRNA in the rVLM was analyzed by reverse transcription and quantitative real-time PCR. Relative ratios of PPE mRNA levels (normalized with 18s house keeping gene) were increased 1.5h after EA stimulation (7.77+/-1.39, n=6) relative to sham (2.84+/-0.37, n=5) but were unchanged both 20min and 4h after EA, compared to the sham or surgery groups at the same time points. Thus, 30min of EA transiently stimulates the production of enkephalin in a region of the brain that importantly regulates sympathetic outflow suggesting that even a single brief acupuncture treatment can increase the expression of this modulatory neuropeptide.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

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