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Electroacupuncture Inhibits Hyperalgesia by Alleviating Inflammatory Factors in a Rat Model of Migraine

Authors Zhao L, Liu L, Xu X, Qu Z, Zhu Y, Li Z, Zhao J, Wang L, Jing X, Li B

Received 31 July 2019

Accepted for publication 24 December 2019

Published 13 January 2020 Volume 2020:13 Pages 75—86


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Dr Michael A Überall

Luopeng Zhao, 1, 2,* Lu Liu, 1, 3,* Xiaobai Xu, 1 Zhengyang Qu, 1 Yupu Zhu, 1 Zhijuan Li, 1 Jingxia Zhao, 2 Linpeng Wang, 1 Xianghong Jing, 3 Bin Li 1

1Acupuncture and Moxibustion Department, Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Capital Medical University, Beijing Key Laboratory of Acupuncture Neuromodulation, Beijing, People’s Republic of China; 2Beijing Key Laboratory of Clinic and Basic Research with Traditional Chinese Medicine on Psoriasis, Beijing Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Beijing, People’s Republic of China; 3Institute of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Bin Li; Xianghong Jing Email;

Objective: Acupuncture has a therapeutic effect similar to that of prophylactic drugs and can be considered a treatment option for migraineurs. However, the mechanism of acupuncture treatment’s effect on migraine is uncertain. An approach based on anti-inflammatory effects is an important treatment strategy for migraine because non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually used during migraine attacks. Meningeal inflammation is thought to be responsible for the activation of the trigeminovascular system. Our previous study found that electroacupuncture (EA) decreased neurogenic inflammation mediator expression in the trigeminal ganglion (TG) and alleviated hyperalgesia. The present study examined whether EA would inhibit hyperalgesia by alleviating neurogenic inflammatory factors.
Methods: A rat model of migraine was established using dural electrical stimulation (DES). Five groups were analyzed in this study. The Model group received DES three times to mimic migraine attacks, a Control group had sham DES, and three groups received electroacupuncture after DES: a Non-Acu group at a non-acupuncture point, a GB20 group at GB20, and a GB20/34 group at GB20 and GB34 acupuncture points. We evaluated mechanical hyperalgesia using an electronic von Frey esthesiometer in the awake state. After sacrifice, the dura mater was analyzed using immunofluorescence. Serum calcitonin gene-related peptide, cyclooxygenase-2, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF levels were determined using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays to evaluate the anti-inflammatory effect of acupuncture.
Results: After repeated DES, we observed facial and hind paw mechanical hyperalgesia, which was inhibited by electroacupuncture. Electrical stimulation increased the number of mast cells and macrophages and serum levels of inflammatory factors. GB20 and GB20/34 electroacupuncture significantly decreased the number of mast cells and macrophages and serum levels of inflammatory factors. Moreover, electroacupuncture at GB20/34 was superior to that at GB20 alone in inhibiting hyperalgesia and alleviating inflammatory factors.
Conclusion: Electroacupuncture inhibits DES-induced hyperalgesia by alleviating inflammatory factors. Inhibition of dural mast cells, macrophages, and serum inflammatory factors may be one of the mechanisms involved in acupuncture treatment’s effect on migraine.

Keywords: migraine, acupuncture, GB20, GB34, neurogenic inflammation, hyperalgesia, inflammatory

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