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Brain Res. 2003 May 30;973(2):196-204.

Analgesia and c-Fos expression in the periaqueductal gray induced by electroacupuncture at the Zusanli point in rats.

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Department of Physiological Sciences, Universidade Federal Rural do Rio de Janeiro, BR 465 Km 7, 23851 970 Seropedica, RJ, Brazil.


The need to use anaesthetised or restrained animals in acupuncture research in laboratory animals may represent a confounding variable, since both anaesthesia and stress alter the pain threshold and the activity of pain-related brain areas. In the current study we assessed the participation of the periaqueductal gray (PAG) in electroacupuncture's (EA) analgesic effects applied to the Zusanli point (36S) under carefully controlled stress conditions. Repeated immobilisation protocols (6 days, 1 h/day and 13 days, 2 h/day) were used to diminish the influence of acute immobilisation stress on c-Fos expression and analgesia (tail-flick test) induced by electroacupuncture on the 36S point (EA36S). Animals submitted to immobilisation alone (IMMO) or to electroacupuncture (100 Hz, 2-4 V, faradic wave) on a non-point region (EANP) were compared with animals submitted to electroacupuncture on the 36S point. In animals not previously submitted to repeated immobilisation, electroacupuncture on the 36S point induced analgesia and c-Fos expression in the PAG was not different from that induced by electroacupuncture at a non-acupuncture point. In animals submitted to repeated immobilisation (repeated immobilisation for 6 days or repeated immobilisation for 13 days), however, electroacupuncture on point 36S led to higher levels of analgesia and c-Fos expression, specifically in the ventrolateral PAG (vlPAG), as compared with animal groups subjected only to immobilisation or to electroacupuncture on a non-point. Our findings endorse previous results, and point to a specific part of the PAG involved in the effects of electroacupuncture at the Zusanli point.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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