Electroacupuncture at Hua Tuo Jia Ji Acupoints Reduced Neuropathic Pain and Increased GABA-A Receptors in Rat Spinal Cord

Abstract

Chronic constriction injury- (CCI-) induced neuropathic pain is the most similar model to hyperalgesia in clinical observation. Neuropathic pain is a neuronal dysfunction in the somatosensory system that may lead to spontaneous pain. In this study, electroacupuncture (EA) was applied at bilateral L4 and L6 of Hua Tuo Jia Ji points (EX-B2) for relieving neuropathic pain in rats. Eighteen Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to three groups: sham, 2-Hz EA, and 15-Hz EA groups. Following von Frey and cold plate tests, both the 2- and the 15-Hz EA groups had significantly lower mechanical and thermal hyperalgesia than the sham group. Western blot analysis results showed that γ-aminobutyric acid A (GABAA), adenosine A1 receptor (A1R), transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 (TRPV1), TRPV4, and metabotropic glutamate receptor 3 (mGluR3) were similar in the dorsal root ganglion of all three groups. Furthermore, levels of GABAA receptors were higher in the spinal cord of rats in the 2- and 15-Hz EA groups compared with the sham control group. This was not observed for A1R, TRPV1, TRPV4, or mGluR3 receptors. In addition, all the aforementioned receptors were unchanged in the somatosensory cortex of the study rats, suggesting a central spinal effect. The study results provide evidence to support the clinical use of EA for specifically alleviating neuropathic pain.

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