Repetitive Electroacupuncture Attenuates Cold-Induced Hypertension Through Enkephalin in the Rostral Ventral Lateral Medulla

Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 24;6:35791. doi: 10.1038/srep35791.


Acupuncture lowers blood pressure (BP) in hypertension, but mechanisms underlying its action are unclear. To simulate clinical studies, we performed electroacupuncture (EA) in unanesthetized rats with cold-induced hypertension (CIH) induced by six weeks of cold exposure (6 °C). EA (0.1 - 0.4 mA, 2 Hz) was applied at ST36-37 acupoints overlying the deep peroneal nerve for 30 min twice weekly for five weeks while sham-EA was conducted with the same procedures as EA except for no electrical stimulation. Elevated BP was reduced after six sessions of EA treatment and remained low 72 hrs after EA in 18 CIH rats, but not in sham-EA (n = 12) and untreated (n = 6) CIH ones. The mRNA level of preproenkephalin in the rostral ventrolateral medulla (rVLM) 72 hr after EA was increased (n = 9), compared to the sham-EA (n = 6), untreated CIH rats (n = 6) and normotensive control animals (n = 6). Microinjection of ICI 174,864, a δ-opioid receptor antagonist, into the rVLM of EA-treated CIH rats partially reversed EA's effect on elevated BP (n = 4). Stimulation of rVLM of CIH rats treated with sham-EA using a δ-opioid agonist, DADLE, decreased BP (n = 6). These data suggest that increased enkephalin in the rVLM induced by repetitive EA contributes to BP lowering action of EA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Points
  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cold Temperature / adverse effects*
  • Electroacupuncture / methods
  • Enkephalins / metabolism*
  • Hypertension / metabolism
  • Hypertension / therapy*
  • Male
  • Medulla Oblongata / metabolism*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Protein Precursors / metabolism
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Enkephalins
  • Protein Precursors
  • RNA, Messenger
  • proenkephalin
  • preproenkephalin