To observe the effect of electroacupuncture .(EA) stimulation of "Zusanli" (ST 36)-"Yang- lingquan" (GB 34) on expression of pain sensory and affection processing-related corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) receptor, glutamatergic NMDA receptor and GABA receptor subtype genes in the amygdala in chronic constrictive injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve rats, so as to reveal its mechanism underlying pain relief.
Experiments were separately performed in 36 male Wistar rats which were randomized into normal control, CCI model and EA + CCI; normal control, CCI + negative affection (NA) model and CCl+ NA+ EA groups (n =6 in each group). Neuropathic pain model was established by ligature of the left sciatic nerve, and NA model established by ligation of the left sciatic nerve and repeated skin stimulation (acupuncture needle pricking + direct current stimulation) of the paw-bottom, once daily for 3 days. EA (2 Hz/15 Hz, 1 mA) was applied to bilateral ST 36-GB 34 for 30 min, once daily for 7 days. Thermal pain threshold (paw withdrawal latency, PWL) of the bilateral paws was measured by using a Tail-Flick Unit 37360. Expression levels of CRF-1 R, CRF-2 R, NR 2 A,NR 2 B,GABAaR and GABAcR genes in the amygdala were determined using quantitative RT-PCR.
In comparison with the normal control groups, PWL difference (PWLD) values of the bilateral paws of CCIl model and CCI+NA model groups were significantly increased (P<0. 05). In comparison with the model group, following 7 days' EA stimulation, PWLD were considerably decreased (P<0. 05), showing a pain relief. RT-PCR results indicated that compared to the normal control group, the expression levels of CRF-1 R, CRF-2 R, NR 2 A and NR 2 B genes were apparently increased in the CCI model group (P<0. 01, P<0. 001), and those of CRF-1 R, CRF-2 R, NR 2 A, NR 2 B, GABAaR and GABAcR genes were remarkably down-regulated in the CCI + NA model group (P<0. 05, P<0. 01, P<0. 001). After EA intervention for 7 days, CRF-2 R, NR 2 A and NR 2 B were significantly down-regulated in the CCI + EA group, and CRF-1 R, CRF-2 R, NR 2 B,GABAaR and GABAcR genes were obviously up-regulated in the CCI + NA + EA group (P<0. 01, P<0. 001).
Repeated EA stimulation of ST 36-GB 34 has a definite analgesic effect in neuropathic pain and negative affection rats, which may be respectively related to its effects in down-regulating expression of CRF-2 R, NR 2 A and NR 2 B genes, and up-regulating expression of CRF-1 R, CRF-2 R, NR 2 B,GABAaR and GABAcR genes in the amyg- dala.