, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 211–220 | Cite as

Electro-acupuncture Pretreatment at Zusanli (ST36) Acupoint Attenuates Lipopolysaccharide-Induced Inflammation in Rats by Inhibiting Ca2+ Influx Associated with Cannabinoid CB2 Receptors

  • Tao Chen
  • Yong Xiong
  • Man Long
  • Dan Zheng
  • Hui Ke
  • Jun Xie
  • Nina YinEmail author
  • Zebin ChenEmail author


In this study, we aimed to investigate the effect of electro-acupuncture (EA) pretreatment at zusanli (ST36) acupoint on lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced endotoxemic rat model and explore the underlying molecular mechanisms. Rats were treated with EA at ST36 for 7 days before being subjected to LPS. Two hours post-LPS, samples such as serum, local acupoint tissues, and spleens were collected and processed for investigations including cytokine production, cytosolic calcium (Ca2+) concentration, Ca2+ influx, cannabinoid CB2 receptor (CB2R) expression, and TLR4/NF-κB signaling. Our results showed EA pretreatment significantly attenuated LPS-induced inflammatory cytokine production, such as TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6. EA also enhanced CB2R expression, inhibited Ca2+ influx, and inactivated TLR4/NF-κB signaling, subsequently resulting in a substantial reduction of Ca2+ concentration. Importantly, CB2R antagonist AM630 effectively abrogated the suppressive effect of EA at ST36 on the endotoxemic rats, suggesting CB2R was involved in the anti-inflammatory effect of EA. EA pretreatment could enhance CB2R expression, inhibit Ca2+ influx, and inactivate TLR4/NF-κB signaling, which contributes to the alleviation of LPS-induced inflammation in rats.


electro-acupuncture lipopolysaccharide inflammation calcium cannabinoid CB2 receptor TLR4/NF-κB signaling 


Author’s Contributions

Tao Chen, Yong Xiong, Nina Yin, and Zebin Chen designed the study; Tao Chen and Yong Xiong performed the experiments and wrote the manuscript; Man Long and Dan Zheng contributed to the rat model and EA pretreatment; Hui Ke helped analyze the data; and Jun Xie and Zebin Chen revised the manuscript.


This study was supported by the grants from the Health and Family Planning Commission of Hubei Province (No. 2013Z-Z01) and the Natural Science Foundation of Hubei Province of China (No. 2015CFA096).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anatomy, School of Basic Medical SciencesHubei University of Chinese MedicineWuhanChina
  2. 2.College of Acupuncture and MoxibustionHubei University of Chinese MedicineWuhanChina
  3. 3.School of Basic Medical SciencesHubei University of Chinese MedicineWuhanChina
  4. 4.Hubei Provincial Collaborative Innovation Center of Preventive Treatment by Acupuncture and MoxibustionHubei University of Chinese MedicineWuhanChina

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