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Neural Plast. 2018 Nov 11;2018:6109723. doi: 10.1155/2018/6109723. eCollection 2018.

Electroacupuncture Treatment Alleviates the Remifentanil-Induced Hyperalgesia by Regulating the Activities of the Ventral Posterior Lateral Nucleus of the Thalamus Neurons in Rats.

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Neuroscience Research Institute and Department of Neurobiology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100083, China.
Department of Internal Medicine, Peking University Hospital, Beijing 100871, China.
The Second Affiliated Hospital of Xinxiang Medical University, Xinxiang, Henan 453002, China.
Key Laboratory for Neuroscience, Ministry of Education/National Health and Family Planning Commission, Beijing 100083, China.


Mechanisms underlying remifentanil- (RF-) induced hyperalgesia, a phenomenon that is generally named as opioid-induced hyperalgesia (OIH), still remain elusive. The ventral posterior lateral nucleus (VPL) of the thalamus, a key relay station for the transmission of nociceptive information to the cerebral cortex, is activated by RF infusion. Electroacupuncture (EA) is an effective method for the treatment of pain. This study aimed to explore the role of VPL in the development of OIH and the effect of EA treatment on OIH in rats. RF was administered to rats via the tail vein for OIH induction. Paw withdrawal threshold (PWT) in response to mechanical stimuli and paw withdrawal latency (PWL) to thermal stimulation were tested in rats for the assessment of mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia, respectively. Spontaneous neuronal activity and local field potential (LFP) in VPL were recorded in freely moving rats using the in vivo multichannel recording technique. EA at 2 Hz frequency (pulse width 0.6 ms, 1-3 mA) was applied to the bilateral acupoints "Zusanli" (ST.36) and "Sanyinjiao" (SP.6) in rats. The results showed that both the PWT and PWL were significantly decreased after RF infusion to rats. Meanwhile, both the spontaneous neuronal firing rate and the theta band oscillation in VPL LFP were increased on day 3 post-RF infusion, indicating that the VPL may promote the development of RF-induced hyperalgesia by regulating the pain-related cortical activity. Moreover, 2 Hz-EA reversed the RF-induced decrease both in PWT and PWL of rats and also abrogated the RF-induced augmentation of the spontaneous neuronal activity and the power spectral density (PSD) of the theta band oscillation in VPL LFP. These results suggested that 2 Hz-EA attenuates the remifentanil-induced hyperalgesia via reducing the excitability of VPL neurons and the low-frequency (theta band) oscillation in VPL LFP.

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