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Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:7531060. doi: 10.1155/2017/7531060. Epub 2017 Nov 22.

Electroacupuncture Inhibits the Activation of p38MAPK in the Central Descending Facilitatory Pathway in Rats with Inflammatory Pain.

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College of Veterinary Medicine, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan 430070, China.
College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University, 212 Greene Hall, Auburn, AL 36849-5518, USA.


The mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), especially p38MAPK, play a pivotal role in chronic pain. Electroacupuncture (EA) relieves inflammatory pain underlying the descending pathway, that is, the periaqueductal gray (PAG), the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM), and the spinal cord dorsal horn (SCDH). However, whether EA antagonizes inflammatory pain through regulation of p38MAPK in this descending facilitatory pathway is unclear. Complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) was injected into the hind paw of rats to establish inflammatory pain model. EA was administrated for 30 min at Zusanli and Kunlun acupoints at 0.5, 24.5, 48.5, and 72.5 h, respectively. The paw withdrawal threshold (PWT), paw edema, and Phosphor-p38MAPK-Immunoreactivity (p-p38MAPK-IR) cells were measured before (0 h) and at 1, 3, 5, 7, 25, and 73 h after CFA or saline injection. EA increased PWT at 1, 3, 25, and 73 h and inhibited paw edema at 25 and 73 h after CFA injection. Moreover, the increasing number of p-p38MAPK-IR cells which was induced by CFA was suppressed by EA stimulation in PAG and RVM at 3 and 5 h and in SCDH at 5, 7, 25, and 73 h. These results suggest that EA suppresses inflammation-induced hyperalgesia probably through inhibiting p38MAPK activation in the descending facilitatory pathway.

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