A quantitative proteomic analysis of the response to dry needling combined with static stretching treatment was performed in a rat model of active myofascial trigger points (MTrPs). 36 rats were divided into a model group (MG), a stretching group (SG) and a dry needling combined with stretching group (SDG). We performed three biological replicates to compare large-scale differential protein expression between groups by tandem mass tag (TMT) labeling technology based on nanoscale liquid chromatography mass spectrometry analysis (LC⁻MS/MS). Hierarchical clustering, Gene Ontology (GO), Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) enrichment and protein-protein interaction network analyses were performed for the general characterization of overall enriched proteins. For validation of the results of TMT, the candidate proteins were verified by parallel reaction monitoring (PRM) analysis. 285 differentially expressed proteins between groups were identified and quantified. Tight junction pathway played a dominant role in dry needling combined with static stretching treatment for the rat model of active MTrPs. Three candidate proteins, namely actinin alpha 3, calsequestrin-1 and parvalbumin alpha, were further validated, consistent with the results of LC⁻MS/MS. This is the first proteomics-based study to report the therapeutic mechanism underlying dry needling and static stretching treatment for MTrPs. Further functional verification of the potential signaling pathways and the enriched proteins is warranted.
Keywords: actinin alpha 3; calsequestrin-1; chronic myofascial pain; dry needling; mass spectrometry; myofascial trigger points; parvalbumin alpha; proteomic; stretching; tandem mass tag.