Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 1659–1668 | Cite as

A mathematical model of histamine-mediated neural activation during acupuncture

  • Na Yin
  • Hongwei Yang
  • Wei YaoEmail author
  • Guanghong Ding
Original Paper


Acupoints (Xuewei) are the focus of acupuncture on the body in traditional Chinese medicine treatment. Mast and nerve cells share a perivascular location and are abundantly found at these acupoints. Both environmental factors and medical treatments (chemical and physical stimuli) can stimulate local mast cells (MCs) to degranulate and thus release histamine which then activates the nearby nerves and therefore contributes to a signal transmission from the peripheral to the central nervous system. In this paper, a mathematical model is constructed to describe the signaling pathways that originate from the cells located at an acupoint. We show that: (1) peripheral stimuli induce the release of histamine from MCs; (2) histamine excites receptors in primary sensory neurons and leads to membrane action potentials; (3) histamine released from MCs at an acupoint plays a key role in response to acupuncture. These results are consistent with experimental observations. Furthermore, this study may facilitate our understanding of the signal transmission process that occurs in response to peripheral stimuli as well as provide a useful modeling tool for quantitatively analyzing immune and acupuncture mechanisms that involve MCs.


Acupoint Mast cell Nerve Degranulation Histamine Mathematical model 



This study was funded by National Natural Science Foundation of China (81473750 and 81574053), Shanghai Key Laboratory of Acupuncture Mechanism and Acupoint Function (14DZ2260500).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Human and animal rights

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Shanghai Key Laboratory of Acupuncture Mechanism and Acupoint Function, Department of Aeronautics and AstronauticsFudan University, Shanghai Research Center of AcupunctureShanghaiChina

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