Electroacupuncture reduces fibromyalgia pain by downregulating the TRPV1-pERK signalling pathway in the mouse brain.
Acupunct Med. 2020 Jan 16:acupmed2017011395. Epub 2020 Jan 16. PMID: 31941349
BACKGROUND: Acupuncture has been clinically recommended as a method of pain relief by the World Health Organization and is widely used by medical doctors. Fibromyalgia (FM) pain has a complex physiological and psychological origin and can be pharmacologically treated with duloxetine, milnacipran and pregabalin. However, these drugs produce undesirable side effects, such as headaches, nausea and diarrhoea. Acupuncture may serve as an effective alternative treatment for pain relief with few side effects.
AIMS: We hypothesised that acupuncture would reduce FM pain by influencing transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 (TRPV1) and the downstream phosphorylated extracellular signal-regulated kinases (pERK), which are located in the central thalamus, amygdala and cortex.
METHODS: A FM mouse model was established by injecting two doses of acid saline into 32 female C57/B6 mice. The mice were then assigned to different subgroups (n=8 each) and treated with electroacupuncture (EA) or EA sham control. TRPV1 and pERK expression levels were measured using Western blotting and immunohistochemistry.
RESULTS: Our results demonstrated that the expression of TRPV1 and pERK in the thalamus, amygdala and somatosensory cortex was normal in the control mice, but significantly increased in FM mice; these FM-induced changes in expression were attenuated by EA.
CONCLUSION: Our data suggest that EA can reverse the central sensitisation of the TRPV1-ERK signalling pathway in the mouse brain. Thus, our findings provide mechanistic evidence supporting the potential therapeutic efficacy of EA for treating FM pain.