Enhanced spinal neuronal responses as a mechanism for increased number and size of active acupoints in visceral hyperalgesia
Acupuncture has been used to treat a variety of illness and involves the insertion and manipulation of needles into specific points on the body (termed "acupoints"). It has been suggested that acupoints are not merely discrete, static points, but can be dynamically changed according to the pathological state of internal organs. We investigated in a rat model of mustard oil (MO)-induced visceral hyperalgesia whether the number and size of acupoints were modified according to the severity of the
... he severity of the colonic pain, and whether the changes were associated with enhanced activity of the spinal dorsal horn. In MO-treated rats, acupoints showing neurogenic inflammation (termed "neurogenic spots" or Neuro-Sps) were found both bilaterally and unilaterally on the leg. The number and size of these acupoints increased along with increasing doses of MO. Electroacupuncture of the acupoints generated analgesic effects on MO-induced visceral hypersensitivity. The MO-treated rats showed an increase in c-Fos expression in spinal dorsal horn neurons and displayed increased evoked activity and a prolonged after-discharge in spinal wide dynamic response (WDR) neurons in response to colorectal distension. Increased number and size of neurogenic inflammatory acupoints following MO treatment were reduced by inhibiting AMPA and NMDA receptors in the spinal cord. Our findings suggest that acupoints demonstrate increased number and size along with severity of visceral pain, which may be associated with enhanced neuronal responses in spinal dorsal horn neurons.