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Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:393460. doi: 10.1155/2013/393460. Epub 2013 May 25.

Electroacupuncture inhibition of hyperalgesia in rats with adjuvant arthritis: involvement of cannabinoid receptor 1 and dopamine receptor subtypes in striatum.

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1
Shanghai First People's Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200080, China.

Abstract

Electroacupuncture (EA) has been regarded as an alternative treatment for inflammatory pain for several decades. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the antinociceptive effect of EA have not been thoroughly clarified. Previous studies have shown that cannabinoid CB1 receptors are related to pain relief. Accumulating evidence has shown that the CB1 and dopamine systems sometimes interact and may operate synergistically in rat striatum. To our knowledge, dopamine D1/D2 receptors are involved in EA analgesia. In this study, we found that repeated EA at Zusanli (ST36) and Kunlun (BL60) acupoints resulted in marked improvements in thermal hyperalgesia. Both western blot assays and FQ-PCR analysis results showed that the levels of CB1 expression in the repeated-EA group were much higher than those in any other group (P = 0.001). The CB1-selective antagonist AM251 inhibited the effects of repeated EA by attenuating the increases in CB1 expression. The two kinds of dopamine receptors imparted different actions on the EA-induced CB1 upregulation in AA rat model. These results suggested that the strong activation of the CB1 receptor after repeated EA resulted in the concomitant phenomenon of the upregulation of D1 and D2 levels of gene expression.

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