This study was performed to determine whether spinal cholinergic systems mediate the relieving effects of electroacupuncture (EA) on cold and warm allodynia in a rat model of neuropathic pain. For neuropathic surgery, the right superior caudal trunk was resected at the level between the S1 and S2 spinal nerves innervating the tail. Two weeks after the injury, the intrathecal (i.t.) catheter was implanted. Five days after the catheterization, the rats were injected with atropine (non-selective muscarinic antagonist, 30 μg), mecamylamine (non-selective nicotinic antagonist, 50 μg), pirenzepine (M1 muscarinic antagonist, 10 μg), methoctramine (M2 antagonist, 10 μg) or 4-diphenylacetoxy-N-methylpiperidine methiodide (4-DAMP) (M3 antagonist, 10 μg). Ten minutes after the injection, EA was applied to the ST36 acupoint for 30 min. The cold and warm allodynia were assessed by the tail immersion test [i.e., immersing the tail in cold (4°C) or warm (40°C) water and measuring the latency of an abrupt tail movement] before and after the treatments. The i.t. atropine, but not mecamylamine, blocked the relieving effects of EA on cold and warm allodynia. Furthermore, i.t. pirenzepine attenuated the antiallodynic effects of EA, whereas methoctramine and 4-DAMP did not. These results suggest that spinal muscarinic receptors, especially M1 subtype, mediate the EA-induced antiallodynia in neuropathic rats.
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This work was supported by the Acupuncture, Moxibustion and Meridian Research Project of Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine in 2006–2007 (K06070). Sun Kwang Kim was supported by the Graduate Research Scholarship from Graduate School of Kyung Hee University in 2007.
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