P2X₇ receptor of rat dorsal root ganglia is involved in the effect of moxibustion on visceral hyperalgesia

Purinergic Signal. 2015 Jun;11(2):161-9. doi: 10.1007/s11302-014-9439-y. Epub 2014 Dec 20.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease often display visceral hypersensitivity. Visceral nociceptors after inflammatory stimulation generate afferent nerve impulses through dorsal root ganglia (DRG) transmitting to the central nervous system. ATP and its activated-purinergic 2X7 (P2X7) receptor play an important role in the transmission of nociceptive signal. Purinergic signaling is involved in the sensory transmission of visceral pain. Moxibustion is a therapy applying ignited mugwort directly or indirectly at acupuncture points or other specific parts of the body to treat diseases. Heat-sensitive acupoints are the corresponding points extremely sensitive to moxa heat in disease conditions. In this study, we aimed to investigate the relationship between the analgesic effect of moxibustion on a heat-sensitive acupoint "Dachangshu" and the expression levels of P2X7 receptor in rat DRG after chronic inflammatory stimulation of colorectal distension. Heat-sensitive moxibustion at Dachangshu acupoint inhibited the nociceptive signal transmission by decreasing the upregulated expression levels of P2X7 mRNA and protein in DRG induced by visceral pain, and reversed the abnormal expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP, a marker of satellite glial cells) in DRG. Consequently, abdominal withdrawal reflex (AWR) score in a visceral pain model was reduced, and the pain threshold was elevated. Therefore, heat-sensitive moxibustion at Dachangshu acupoint can produce a therapeutic effect on IBS via inhibiting the nociceptive transmission mediated by upregulated P2X7 receptor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Ganglia, Spinal / metabolism*
  • Hyperalgesia / metabolism*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / metabolism
  • Male
  • Moxibustion* / methods
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X7 / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Purinergic P2X7