Electroacupuncture Alleviates Hyperalgesia by Regulating CB1 Receptor of Spinal Cord in Incisional Neck Pain Rats

Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2021 Dec 18:2021:5880690. doi: 10.1155/2021/5880690. eCollection 2021.


Acupuncture therapy is effective in relieving postoperative pain of neck surgery, but its underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown. This study, in the incisional neck pain rat model, was designed to explore whether the endocannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) in the cervical spinal cord is involved in the analgesic effect of electroacupuncture (EA) or not.The incisional neck pain model was established by making a longitudinal incision and applied EA treatment of Futu (LI18), Hegu-Neiguan (LI4-PC6), or Zusanli-Yanglingquan (ST36-GB34) for pain relief. The results showed that EA LI18 and EA LI4-PC6 effectively relieve allodynia caused by neck incision, which was obviously better than EA ST34-GB34 (P < 0.05). After EA, the expression levels of CB1 mRNA at 4h in the EALI18 group, and 24 and 48h in both EALI18 and EALI4-PC6 groups, and those of CB1 protein at 4, 24, and 48h in the EALI18 group, and the immunoactivity of CB1 in both EALI18 and EALI4-PC6 groups at 4h were significantly upregulated in contrast to those of the model group (P < 0.05). EA of either acupoint group had no effect on the expression of CB2 protein (P > 0.05). Moreover, the antinociceptive effect of EA was reversed by AM251 (CB1 antagonist). Immunofluorescence dual staining showed that CB1 expressed in astrocytes in the superficial layer (laminae I and II) of dorsal horns of the cervical spinal cord. Therefore, the findings of this study revealed that upregulation of CB1 expression in the cervical spinal cord contributes to the analgesic effect of EA in incisional neck pain rats. The CB1 receptor expresses on astrocytes.