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Papers of the Week

Papers: 11 Nov 2023 - 17 Nov 2023

2023 Nov 13

Mol Neurobiol


Electroacupuncture Exerts Analgesic Effects by Restoring Hyperactivity via Cannabinoid Type 1 Receptors in the Anterior Cingulate Cortex in Chronic Inflammatory Pain.


Wu J, Hua L, Liu W, Yang X, Tang X, Yuan S, Zhou S, Ye Q, Cui S, Wu Z, Lai L, Tang C, Wang L, Yi W, Yao L, Xu N


As one of the commonly used therapies for pain-related diseases in clinical practice, electroacupuncture (EA) has been proven to be effective. In chronic pain, neurons in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) have been reported to be hyperactive, while the mechanism by which cannabinoid type 1 receptors (CB1Rs) in the ACC are involved in EA-mediated analgesic mechanisms remains to be elucidated. In this study, we investigated the potential central mechanism of EA analgesia. A combination of techniques was used to detect the expression and function of CB1R, including quantitative real-time PCR (q-PCR), western blot (WB), immunofluorescence (IF), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and in vivo multichannel optical fibre recording, and neuronal activity was examined by in vivo two-photon imaging and in vivo electrophysiological recording. We found that the hyperactivity of pyramidal neurons in the ACC during chronic inflammatory pain is associated with impairment of the endocannabinoid system. EA at the Zusanli acupoint (ST36) can reduce the hyperactivity of pyramidal neurons and exert analgesic effects by increasing the endocannabinoid ligands anandamide (AEA), 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and CB1R. More importantly, CB1R in the ACC is one of the necessary conditions for the EA-mediated analgesia effect, which may be related to the negative regulation of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) by the activation of CB1R downregulating NR1 subunits of NMDAR (NR1) via histidine triad nucleotide-binding protein 1 (HINT1). Our study suggested that the endocannabinoid system in the ACC plays an important role in acupuncture analgesia and provides evidence for a central mechanism of EA-mediated analgesia.