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Papers of the Week

2021 May 02

Purinergic Signal

Acupuncture modulates extracellular ATP levels in peripheral sensory nervous system during analgesia of ankle arthritis in rats.



As an ancient analgesia therapy, acupuncture has been practiced worldwide nowadays. A good understanding of its mechanisms will offer a promise for its rational and wider application. As the first station of pain sensation, peripheral sensory ganglia express pain-related P2X receptors that are involved in the acupuncture analgesia mechanisms transduction pathway. While the role of their endogenous ligand, extracellular ATP (eATP), remains less studied. This work attempted to clarify whether acupuncture modulated eATP levels in the peripheral sensory nerve system during its analgesia process. Male Sprague-Dawley rats underwent acute inflammatory pain by injecting Complete Freund's Adjuvant in the unilateral ankle joint for 2 days. A twenty-minute acupuncture was applied to ipsilateral Zusanli acupoint. Thermal hyperalgesia and tactile allodynia were assessed on bilateral hind paws to evaluate the analgesic effect. eATP of bilateral isolated lumbar 4-5 dorsal root ganglia (DRGs) and sciatic nerves were determined by luminescence assay. Nucleotidases NTPDase-2 and -3 in bilateral ganglia and sciatic nerves were measured by real-time PCR to explore eATP hydrolysis process. Our results revealed that acute inflammation induced bilateral thermal hyperalgesia and ipsilateral tactile allodynia, which were accompanied by increased eATP levels and higher mechano-sensitivity of bilateral DRGs and decreased eATP levels of bilateral sciatic nerves. Acupuncture exerted anti-nociception on bilateral hind paws, reversed the increased eATP and mechanosensitivity of bilateral DRGs, and restored the decreased eATP of bilateral sciatic nerves. NTPDase-2 and -3 in bilateral ganglia and sciatic nerves were inconsistently modulated during this period. These observations indicate that eATP metabolism of peripheral sensory nerve system was simultaneously regulated during acupuncture analgesia, which might open a new frontier for acupuncture research.