, Volume 32, Issue 8, pp 1415-1422
Date: 04 Apr 2007

Effect of Electroacupuncture on Neurotrophin Expression in Cat Spinal Cord after Partial Dorsal Rhizotomy

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Neuroplasticity of the spinal cord following electroacupuncture (EA) has been demonstrated although little is known about the possible underlying mechanism. This study evaluated the effect of EA on expression of neurotrophins in the lamina II of the spinal cord, in cats subjected to dorsal rhizotomy. Cats received bilateral removal of L1–L5 and L7–S2 dorsal root ganglia (DRG, L6 DRG spared) and unilateral EA. They were sacrificed 7 days after surgery, and the L6 spinal segment removed and processed by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization histochemistry, to demonstrate the expression of neurotrophins. Significantly greater numbers of nerve growth factor (NGF) and neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) positive neurons, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) immunoreactive varicosities and NT-3 positive neurons and glial cells were observed in lamina II on the acupunctured (left) side, compared to the non-acupunctured, contralateral side. Greater number of neurons expressing NGF mRNA was also observed on the acupunctured side. No signal for mRNA to BDNF and NT-3 was detected. The above findings demonstrate that EA can increase the expression of endogenous NGF at both the mRNA and protein level, and BDNF and NT-3 at the protein level. It is postulated that EA may promote the plasticity of the spinal cord by inducing increased expression of neurotrophins.