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Papers of the Week

Papers: 23 Mar 2024 - 29 Mar 2024

2024 Mar 20



Electroacupuncture promotes macrophage/microglial M2 polarization and suppresses inflammatory pain through AMPK.


Nan FB, Gu YX, Wang JL, Chen SD


Inflammatory pain, the most prevalent disease globally, remains challenging to manage. Electroacupuncture emerges as an effective therapy, yet its underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. This study investigates whether adenosine 5′-monophosphate (AMP)-activated protein kinase (AMPK)-regulated silent information regulator 1 (SIRT1) contributes to electroacupuncture’s antinociceptive effects by modulating macrophage/microglial polarization in the spinal dorsal horn of a mouse model of inflammatory pain. In this study, mice, introduced to inflammatory pain through subcutaneous injections of complete freund’s adjuvant (CFA) in the plantar area, underwent electroacupuncture therapy every alternate day for 30-min sessions. The assessment of mechanical allodynia and thermal hyperalgesia in these subjects was carried out using paw withdrawal frequency and paw withdrawal latency measurements, respectively. Western blot analysis measured levels of AMPK, phosphorylation-adenosine 5′-monophosphate (AMP)-activated protein kinase, SIRT1, inducible nitric oxide synthase, cluster of differentiation 86, arginase 1, and interleukin 10. In contrast to the group treated solely with CFA, the cohort receiving both CFA and electroacupuncture demonstrated notable decreases in both thermal hyperalgesia and mechanical allodynia. This was accompanied by a marked enhancement in AMPK phosphorylation levels. AMPK knockdown reversed electroacupuncture’s analgesic effects and reduced M2 macrophage/microglial polarization enhancement. Additionally, AMPK knockdown significantly weakened electroacupuncture-induced SIRT1 upregulation, and EX-527 injection attenuated electroacupuncture’s facilitation of M2 macrophage/microglial polarization without affecting AMPK phosphorylation levels. Furthermore, combining electroacupuncture with SRT1720 enhanced the analgesic effect of SRT1720. Our findings suggest that AMPK regulation of SIRT1 plays a critical role in electroacupuncture’s antinociceptive effect through the promotion of M2 macrophage/microglial polarization.