Neuroscience Bulletin

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 476–484 | Cite as

Electroacupuncture Alleviates Motor Symptoms and Up-Regulates Vesicular Glutamatergic Transporter 1 Expression in the Subthalamic Nucleus in a Unilateral 6-Hydroxydopamine-Lesioned Hemi-Parkinsonian Rat Model

  • Yanyan Wang
  • Yong Wang
  • Junhua Liu
  • Xiaomin Wang
Original Article


Previous studies have shown that electroacupuncture (EA) promotes recovery of motor function in Parkinson’s disease (PD). However the mechanisms are not completely understood. Clinically, the subthalamic nucleus (STN) is a critical target for deep brain stimulation treatment of PD, and vesicular glutamate transporter 1 (VGluT1) plays an important role in the modulation of glutamate in the STN derived from the cortex. In this study, a 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-lesioned rat model of PD was treated with 100 Hz EA for 4 weeks. Immunohistochemical analysis of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) showed that EA treatment had no effect on TH expression in the ipsilateral striatum or substantia nigra pars compacta, though it alleviated several of the parkinsonian motor symptoms. Compared with the hemi-parkinsonian rats without EA treatment, the 100 Hz EA treatment significantly decreased apomorphine-induced rotation and increased the latency in the Rotarod test. Notably, the EA treatment reversed the 6-OHDA-induced down-regulation of VGluT1 in the STN. The results demonstrated that EA alleviated motor symptoms and up-regulated VGluT1 in the ipsilateral STN of hemi-parkinsonian rats, suggesting that up-regulation of VGluT1 in the STN may be related to the effects of EA on parkinsonian motor symptoms via restoration of function in the cortico-STN pathway.


Parkinson’s disease Electroacupuncture Motor behavior Vesicular glutamate transporter 1 



This work was supported by the Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission (Z161100002616007), the National Key Research and Development Program (2016YFC1306300), the Major Program of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81527901), and the Natural Science Foundation of Beijing Municipality (7082008).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

All authors claim that there are no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, CAS and Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurobiologyCapital Medical UniversityBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of PhysiologyCapital Medical UniversityBeijingChina
  3. 3.Key Laboratory for Neurodegenerative DisordersThe Ministry of Education of ChinaBeijingChina
  4. 4.Beijing Institute for Brain DisordersBeijingChina

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