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Papers of the Week

Papers: 16 Sep 2023 - 22 Sep 2023

Integrative/Complementary, Review

Animal Studies, Neurobiology, Neuromodulation

Neuropathic Pain


Front Neurosci



Brain nuclei and neural circuits in neuropathic pain and brain modulation mechanisms of acupuncture: a review on animal-based experimental research.


Su N, Cai P, Dou Z, Yin X, Xu H, He J, Li Z, Li C


Neuropathic pain (NP) is known to be associated with abnormal changes in specific brain regions, but the complex neural network behind it is vast and complex and lacks a systematic summary. With the help of various animal models of NP, a literature search on NP brain regions and circuits revealed that the related brain nuclei included the periaqueductal gray (PAG), lateral habenula (LHb), medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC); the related brain circuits included the PAG-LHb and mPFC-ACC. Moreover, acupuncture and injurious information can affect different brain regions and influence brain functions via multiple aspects to play an analgesic role and improve synaptic plasticity by regulating the morphology and structure of brain synapses and the expression of synapse-related proteins; maintain the balance of excitatory and inhibitory neurons by regulating the secretion of glutamate, γ-aminobutyric acid, 5-hydroxytryptamine, and other neurotransmitters and receptors in the brain tissues; inhibit the overactivation of glial cells and reduce the release of pro-inflammatory mediators such as interleukins to reduce neuroinflammation in brain regions; maintain homeostasis of glucose metabolism and regulate the metabolic connections in the brain; and play a role in analgesia through the mediation of signaling pathways and signal transduction molecules. These factors help to deepen the understanding of NP brain circuits and the brain mechanisms of acupuncture analgesia.