To observe the effect of acupoint catgut embedding on the expression of nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain (NOD)-like receptor protein 3 (NLRP3) inflammasome, interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18 in the uterine tissue of primary dysmenorrhea (PD) rats, so as to explore its underlying mechanisms in improving PD.
Forty female SD rats were randomly divided into control, model, acupoint catgut embedding and medication groups (n＝10 in each group). The PD model was established by subcutaneous injection of Estradiol Benzoate (0.5 mg/rat on the 1st and 10thday, and 0.2 mg/rat from 2nd to 9thday) and Oxytocin (2 U/rat, i．p.). The catgut embedding was applied to bilateral "Sanyinjiao" (SP6) and "Guanyuan" (CV4) on the 1st and 5th day after modeling. Rats of the medication group were treated by intragastric perfusion of Fenbid (0.8 mL/rat, 125 mg/100 mL) once daily for 10 days. The body writhing times in 30 min were recorded. The histopathological changes of the uterine were observed by H．E. staining. Western blot was used to detect the expression of NLRP 3, caspase-1, IL-1β and IL-18 in uterine tissues.
The body writhing times were notably more in the model group than in the control group (P<0.01), and obviously fewer in both medication and catgut embedding groups than in the model group (P<0.05, P<0.01). After modeling, the rats' endometrium was extensively exfoliated and got swelling, the histopathological score and the expression levels of NLRP3, caspase-1, IL-1β and IL-18 proteins in the uterus tissue were evidently increased in the model group relevant to the control group (P<0.01). Following the treatment, the degree of endometrial exfoliation and edema of the uterus tissue was lightened, the pathological score was significantly reduced (P<0.01), and the expression levels of caspase-1, IL-1β and IL-18 protein in uterus tissue were markedly decreased in both acupoint catgut embedding and medication groups (P<0.01, P<0.05). The NLRP3 protein expression was significantly decreased in the acupoint catgut embedding group compared with that in the model group (P<0.01). The therapeutic effect of acupoint catgut embedding was significantly superior to that of medication in reducing writhing times and down-regulating expression of NLPR3 protein (P<0.01). No significant differences were found between catgut embedding and medication in histopathological score, and expression levels of caspase-1, IL-1β and IL-18 proteins (P>0.05).
The acupoint catgut embedding can significantly alleviate the symptoms and pathological damage in PD rats, which may be related to its effect in inhibiting the activation of NLRP3 inflammasome in the uterine tissue.