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Brain Res. 2004 Jun 25;1012(1-2):154-9.

Human acupuncture points mapped in rats are associated with excitable muscle/skin-nerve complexes with enriched nerve endings.

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Department of Physiology, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College, #5 Dong Dan San Tiao, Beijing 100005, PR China.


As part of our ongoing investigation into the neurological mechanisms of acupuncture, we have tried to correlate the distribution of afferent nerve endings with acupuncture points (AP) in the rat hind limbs. In vivo extracellular microfilament recordings of Aalpha/Abeta/Adelta fibers were taken from peripheral nerves to search for units with nerve endings or receptive fields (RF) in the skin or the muscles. The location of the RFs for each identified unit was marked on scaled diagrams of the hind limb. Noxious antidromic stimulation-induced Evans blue extravasation was used to map the RFs of C-fibers in the skin or muscles. Results indicate that, for both A- and C-fibers, the distribution of RFs was closely associated with the APs. In the skin, the RFs concentrate either at the sites of APs or along the orbit of meridian channels. Similarly, the majority of sarcous sensory receptors are located at the APs in the muscle. Results from our studies strongly suggest that APs in humans may be excitable muscle/skin-nerve complexes with high density of nerve endings.

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