Critical Roles of TRPV2 Channels, Histamine H1 and Adenosine A1 Receptors in the Initiation of Acupoint Signals for Acupuncture Analgesia

Sci Rep. 2018 Apr 25;8(1):6523. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-24654-y.


Acupuncture is one of the most promising modalities in complimentary medicine. However, the underlying mechanisms are not well understood yet. We found that in TRPV2 knockout male mice, acupuncture-induced analgesia was suppressed with a decreased activation of mast cells in the acupoints stimulated. The mast cell stabilizer sodium cromolyn could suppress the release of adenosine in the acupoints on male rats. A direct injection of adenosine A1 receptor agonist or histamine H1 receptor agonist increased β-endorphin in the cerebral-spinal fluid in the acute adjuvant arthritis male rats and thus replicated the analgesic effect of acupuncture. These observations suggest that the mast cell is the central structure of acupoints and is activated by acupuncture through TRPV2 channels. The mast cell transduces the mechanical stimuli to acupuncture signal by activating either H1 or A1 receptors, therefore triggering the acupuncture effect in the subject. These findings might open new frontiers for acupuncture research.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture / methods
  • Acupuncture Analgesia / methods
  • Acupuncture Points
  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods
  • Adenosine / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Experimental / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Experimental / metabolism
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism*
  • Cromolyn Sodium / metabolism
  • Histamine / metabolism*
  • Histamine Agonists / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Mast Cells / drug effects
  • Mast Cells / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Receptor, Adenosine A1 / metabolism*
  • TRPV Cation Channels / metabolism*
  • beta-Endorphin / metabolism


  • Calcium Channels
  • Histamine Agonists
  • Receptor, Adenosine A1
  • TRPV Cation Channels
  • Trpv2 protein, mouse
  • beta-Endorphin
  • Histamine
  • Adenosine
  • Cromolyn Sodium