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Acupunct Electrother Res. 1992 Jul-Sep; 17(3): 165-76.

C-fos expression during electroacupuncture analgesia in rats--an immunohistochemical study.

Dai JL, Zhu YH, Li XY, Huang DK, Xu SF.

Department of Neurobiology, Shanghai Medical University, People's Republic of China.

Although the central mechanisms of electroacupuncture analgesia (EAA) have been investigated, a systematic study for the involvement of neuronal populations of central nervous system (CNS) in EAA has not been well undertaken, largely due to the difficulty in tracing the neuronal pathways by traditional techniques. Recently developed c-fos expression examination by immunohistochemical method with Ab-1 antisera might be used for this purpose as a useful marker for neuronal activity in CNS. In this study, tail flick latency (TFL) was tested as an index of pain threshold in conscious rats. After unilateral electroacupuncture was applied at 'Zuan-san-li' and 'Huan-tiao', the TFL was significantly prolonged. To explore the possible involvement of certain neuronal groups of central nervous system in EAA, we examined the EAA accompanied c-fos expression throughout the neuraxis, and a lot of specific c-fos protein labelled neurons were found in lumbar spinal cord (laminae I and II), nucleus raphe magnus, nucleus raphe dorsalis, substantia grisea centralis, nucleus habenulae lateralis, nucleus habenulae medialis, nucleus medialis thalami, nucleus lateralis hypothalami, nucleus supramamillaris, nucleus supraopticus, nucleus arcuatus, nucleus preopticus medialis, nucleus amygdala, nucleus tractus diagonalis, etc. No obvious c-fos expression was shown in these areas on control rats. These results strongly suggested that the functional activation of above-mentioned nuclei by electroacupuncture was underlied in EAA action.

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