To observe the effect of electroacupuncture (EA) stimulation of "Baihui" (GV 20) + "Anmian" (EX-HN 16) and "Baihui" (GV 20) + "Zusanli" (ST 36) on behavior reactions and plasma ghrelin level in depression rats, so as to explore the correlation between its antidepressant effect and plasma ghrelin level.
A total of 45 SD rats were randomly divided into 5 groups: normal control, model, Baihui (GV 20) + Anmian (EX-HN 16), Baihui (GV 20) + Zusanli (ST 36) and medication (clomipramine) groups, with 9 rats in each group. The depression model (unpredictable chronic mild stresses, UC-MS) was established by giving the animals with higher temperature environment (45 °C, 5 min), forced ice-water swimming (0- 4 °C, 5 min) , day and night reversal environment (12 h), stroboflash stimulation (12 h), noisy stimulation (12 h), rocking-bed movement (30 min) and damp pad dwelling (6-24 h), etc. for 4 weeks. EA was applied to GV 20-EX-HN 16, and GV 20-ST 36 for 30 min once every other day for 4 weeks after modeling. For rats of the medication group, clomipramine (5 mg/kg) was given (i. p.) once a day for 4 weeks after modeling. The forced swimming test, sucrose preference test and open field test were used to evaluate the rats depressive-like behavior. Plasma ghrelin content was assayed by ELISA.
After exposure to UCMS for 4 weeks, the immobility time was significantly increased, and the struggling time was significantly decreased in the model group (P < 0.05, P < 0.01). In comparison with the model group, the immobility time levels were obviously decreased, while the struggling time and sucrose preference were markedly increased in the Baihui (GV 20) + Anmian (EX-HN 16) , Baihui (GV 20) + Zusanli (ST 36) and medication groups (P < 0.05, P < 0.01). No significant changes were found in the rearing times and total distance of open-field test (locomotor activity) and plasma ghrelin content among the 5 groups among all the groups (P > 0.05). No significant differences were found among the two EA and medication groups in the decreased immobility time and the increased struggling times and sucrose preference levels (P > 0.05).
EA intervention can improve the depression rats' hopeless behavior of forced swimming test and anhedonia behavior (sucrose preference test) , which may be not correlated to plasma ghrelin level at the late-stages and the antidepressant effect of EA intervention.