Intervention of electroacupuncture on spinal p38 MAPK/ATF-2/VR-1 pathway in treating inflammatory pain induced by CFA in rats
Department of Neurobiology and Acupuncture Research, The Third Clinical Medical College, Zhejiang Chinese Medical University, 548 Binwen Road, Binjiang District, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province 310053, China
Molecular Pain 2013, 9:13 doi:10.1186/1744-8069-9-13Published: 22 March 2013
Previous studies have demonstrated that p38 MAPK signal transduction pathway plays an important role in the development and maintenance of inflammatory pain. Electroacupuncture (EA) can suppress the inflammatory pain. However, the relationship between EA effect and p38 MAPK signal transduction pathway in inflammatory pain remains poorly understood. It is our hypothesis that p38 MAPK/ATF-2/VR-1 and/or p38 MAPK/ATF-2/COX-2 signal transduction pathway should be activated by inflammatory pain in CFA-injected model. Meanwhile, EA may inhibit the activation of p38 MAPK signal transduction pathway. The present study aims to investigate that anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect of EA and its intervention on the p38 MAPK signal transduction pathway in a rat model of inflammatory pain.
EA had a pronounced anti-inflammatory and analgesic effect on CFA-induced chronic inflammatory pain in rats. EA could quickly raise CFA-rat’s paw withdrawal thresholds (PWTs) and maintain good and long analgesic effect, while it subdued the ankle swelling of CFA rats only at postinjection day 14. EA could down-regulate the protein expressions of p-p38 MAPK and p-ATF-2, reduced the numbers of p-p38 MAPK-IR cells and p-ATF-2-IR cells in spinal dorsal horn in CFA rats, inhibited the expressions of both protein and mRNA of VR-1, but had no effect on the COX-2 mRNA expression.
The present study indicates that inhibiting the activation of spinal p38 MAPK/ATF-2/VR-1 pathway may be one of the main mechanisms via central signal transduction pathway in the process of anti-inflammatory pain by EA in CFA rats.