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Papers of the Week

Papers: 29 Jul 2023 - 4 Aug 2023

2023 Jul 27

Neurosci Lett


Electroacupuncture Attenuates Chronic Inflammatory Pain And Depression Comorbidity by Inhibiting Hippocampal Neuronal Apoptosis via the PI3K/Akt Signaling Pathway.


Yang P, Chen H, Wang T, Li L, Su H, Li J, He Y, Su S


In chronic inflammatory pain (CIP) and depression, neuroapoptosis has been identified as a contributing factor. Electroacupuncture (EA) shows promise as an alternative therapy for this comorbidity. However, the underlying mechanism remains unclear. This study aimed to investigate the effects of EA on hippocampal neuronal apoptosis in rats with CIP and depression. Rats received plantar injections of complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) on days 0 and 14. They were then divided into groups: sham operation, model, EA, and duloxetine. EA was administered at Hegu (LI4) and Taichong (LR3) from days 15 to 28, while the duloxetine group received duloxetine and distilled water daily (0.1 mg/ml). Pain behavior was assessed using the mechanical withdrawal threshold (MWT) and thermal withdrawal latency (TWL) tests. Depression-like behavior was evaluated through the sucrose preference test (SPT), open-field test (OFT), and forced swim test (FST). Hematoxylin and eosin (HE) staining was employed to assess pathological changes in the hippocampus. Nerve cell apoptosis was determined using TUNEL fluorescence staining. Western blot analysis was conducted to measure the protein expression of Bcl-2, Bax, p-PI3K/PI3K, and p-Akt/Akt. EA demonstrated significant pain intensity reduction and alleviation of pain-related depressive symptoms. Our findings from the HE staining confirmed that CIP induced by CFA led to morphological changes in the hippocampus, while EA effectively reversed these pathological alterations. Moreover, EA intervention remarkably reduced neuronal apoptosis and exhibited an upregulation of Bcl-2 protein expression accompanied by a decrease in Bax expression. Additionally, EA activated the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway. Overall, our study suggests that EA holds the potential to improve pain and depressive behaviors in rats with CIP and depression comorbidity, potentially mediated through the activation of the PI3K/Akt pathway, leading to a reduction in hippocampal neuronal apoptosis.