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PLoS One. 2013 May 30;8(5):e64403. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0064403. Print 2013.

Electro-acupuncture stimulation improves spontaneous locomotor hyperactivity in MPTP intoxicated mice.

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Neuroscience Research Institute, Peking University, Key Laboratory for Neuroscience of the Ministry of Education, Beijing, PR China.


Bradykinesia is one of the major clinical symptoms of Parkinson`s disease (PD) for which treatment is sought. In most mouse models of PD, decreased locomotor activity can be reflected in an open field behavioral test. Therefore the open field test provides a useful tool to study the clinic symptoms of PD patients. Our previous work demonstrated that 100 Hz electro-acupuncture (EA) stimulation at ZUSANLI and SANYINJIAO protected the dopaminergic nigrostriatal system of C57BL/6 mice from MPTP toxicity, indicating that acupuncture might be an effective therapy for PD sufferers. In the present study, we investigated the effects of 100 Hz EA stimulation on the spontaneous locomotor activity in MPTP injured mice. Here we found that, in MPTP treated mice, the total movements significantly decreased and the movement time, velocity and distance dramatically increased, although the dopaminergic nigrostriatal system was devastated, revealed by immunohistochemistry and HPLC-ECD. After 12 sessions of 100 Hz EA stimulation, the total movements elevated and the movement time, velocity and distance decreased, in MPTP mice. 100 Hz EA increased striatal dopamine content in MPTP mice by 35.9%, but decreased its striatal dopamine turnover. We assumed that the injury of other regions in the brain, such as the A11 group in diencephalon, might be involved in the hypermotility in MPTP mice. The effects of 100 Hz EA on spontaneous locomotor activity in MPTP mice might not relate with the striatal dopamine, but with its neuroprotective and regulatory effects on motor circuits in the brain. Our study suggests that EA might be a promising treatment for neurological disorders including PD.

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