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October 2021

Circulation. 1998 Mar; 97(12): 1186-94.

Reversal of reflex-induced myocardial ischemia by median nerve stimulation: a feline model of electroacupuncture.

Li P, Pitsillides KF, Rendig SV, Pan HL, Longhurst JC.

Department of Physiology, Shanghai Medical University, China.

BACKGROUND: Acupuncture is reported to reduce myocardial ischemia, arrhythmias, and hypertension. To investigate the physiological mechanisms underlying these observations, a model of reflex-induced, reversible myocardial ischemia was developed to test the effects of median nerve stimulation as a surrogate for electroacupuncture. METHODS AND RESULTS: Chloralose-anesthetized cats were instrumented to measure arterial blood pressure, left ventricular pressure, left ventricular dP/dt, heart rate, left anterior descending (LAD) coronary blood velocity, and regional wall motion. The LAD artery either was partially occluded or a small diagonal branch was ligated. Subsequently, transient reflex activation of the cardiovascular system was evoked by application of bradykinin (typically 1 microg/mL) to the gallbladder, which significantly increased myocardial oxygen demand (double product), left ventricular dP/dt, and coronary blood velocity and caused ischemia-induced regional dysfunction, evidenced by significant (P<.05) reduction in normalized wall thickening (10.7+/-4.2% versus -23.6+/-2.9%; control versus ischemia; n=7). However, when median nerves were stimulated with low frequency (5 Hz) to mimic electroacupuncture, bradykinin-induced change in normalized wall thickening was significantly improved (-23.6+/-2.9% versus 9.8+/-4.9%; ischemia versus median nerve stimulation, P<.05) and remained augmented > or = 1 hour. Results were similar in partial and complete occlusion groups. Significant improvement in wall thickening was associated with unchanged increment of coronary blood velocity and significantly diminished increments of double product and diastolic blood pressure. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that stimulation of the median nerve to mimic electroacupuncture diminishes regional myocardial ischemia triggered by a sympathetically mediated increase in cardiac oxygen demand. The mechanism of this effect is related to reduction in cardiac oxygen demand, secondary to a diminished pressor response. These data provide the first documentation of the physiological mechanisms underlying the possible beneficial effect of electroacupuncture in the context of restricted coronary blood flow and augmented myocardial oxygen demand.

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