Hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated 2 contributes to electroacupuncture analgesia on lumbar disc herniation-induced radicular pain through activation of microglia in spinal dorsal horn

J Tradit Chin Med. 2022 Jun;42(3):372-378. doi: 10.19852/j.cnki.jtcm.2022.03.004.


Objective: To explore the mechanisms of dorsal root ganglia and spinal microglia cascade cross in electroacupuncture (EA) analgesia in the treatment of lumbar disc herniation.

Methods: A rat model of lumbar disc herniation (LDH) was established, EA was administered at Huantiao (GB30) acupoint 30 min once a day, for 3 d. Before and after modeling, and after EA, mechanical allodynia thresholds were detected. Hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated 2 (HCN2) in dorsal root ganglia was detected by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and Western blot. C-X3-C motif chemokine ligand 1 (CX3CL1) and activity of microglia in spinal cord was observed separately qPCR and immunofluorescence staining.

Results: The mechanical allodynia threshold of the right planta of model rats was significantly reduced ( < 0.01), EA increased the mechanical pain threshold of rats ( < 0.01), and decreased HCN2 mRNA, and protein expression, reduced the expression of CX3CL1 and the activation of microglia. ZD7288 (a blocker of HCN channel) reduced the analgesic effect of EA from 1.83 ± 0.84 to 0.74 ± 0.20 ( < 0.05), and the expression of CX3CL1 in the spinal cord decreased from 0.52 ± 0.11 to 0.15 ± 0.05 ( < 0.01).

Conclusion: EA analgesia on the radicular pain of LDH is definite. EA reduced the expression of HCN2 channel in the dorsal root ganglion, thereby decreasing the noxious stimulation entered to microglia in spinal dorsal horn. Our work supports EA is an effective treatment for radicular pain of LDH.

Keywords: electroacupuncture; ganglia,spinal; hyperpolarization-activated cyclic nucleotide-gated channels; intervertebral disc displacement; microglia; radicular pain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electroacupuncture*
  • Humans
  • Hyperalgesia / metabolism
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement* / drug therapy
  • Intervertebral Disc Displacement* / genetics
  • Microglia / metabolism
  • Neuralgia* / genetics
  • Neuralgia* / metabolism
  • Neuralgia* / therapy
  • Nucleotides, Cyclic / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord Dorsal Horn / metabolism


  • Nucleotides, Cyclic