Effects of electroacupuncture at 'Anmian (Extra)' acupoints on sleep activities in rats: the implication of the caud al nucleus tractus solitarius

J Biomed Sci. 2004 Sep-Oct;11(5):579-90. doi: 10.1007/BF02256122.


Electroacupuncture (EAc) possesses a broad therapeutic effect, including improvement of sleep disturbances. The mechanism of sleep improvement with EAc, however, is still unclear. The present study investigated the effects of EAc stimulation of 'Anmian (extra)' acupoints on sleep organization and the implication of an active structure, the caudal nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS). Rats were implanted with electroencephalogram (EEG) recording electrodes, and 32-gauge acupuncture needles were bilaterally inserted into 'Anmian (extra)' acupoints in the rats, followed by electrical stimulation for 20 min. Twenty-three-hour continuous EEGs were then recorded. Results showed that rapid eye movement sleep (REMS) was enhanced during the dark period when a single EAc stimulation was given 25 min prior to the onset of the dark period. REMS and slow-wave sleep (SWS) increased during the dark period after administration of EAc stimuli on 2 consecutive days. Electrical stimulation of non-acupoints produced no change in the sleep pattern. Pharmacological blockade of muscarinic cholinergic receptors by systemic administration of scopolamine dose-dependently attenuated EAc-induced changes in REMS and SWS. Furthermore, electrical lesions in the bilateral caudal NTS produced significant blockade of EAc-induced sleep enhancement. However, in rats without EAc, scopolamine increased SWS during the dark period, but caudal NTS lesions did not alter sleep. In addition, neither EAc nor scopolamine with EAc manipulation produced any change in the slow-wave activity (SWA) during SWS; however, the SWA during SWS was significantly reduced after caudal NTS lesion with EAc. These results suggest that the caudal NTS may be involved in the regulation of EAc-induced sleep alterations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Points*
  • Animals
  • Brain Diseases / physiopathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electroacupuncture*
  • Electroencephalography
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reference Values
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy
  • Solitary Nucleus / physiology*