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Keywords:

  • Analgesia;
  • Electroacupuncture;
  • Hypothalamus;
  • Neuropathic pain

Abstract

Acupuncture has long been used for pain relief. Although recent studies have shown that acupuncture can reduce neuropathic pain, the mechanism of this effect is not clear and little information is available regarding proteins that are involved in the development of neuropathic pain and the effects of acupuncture. We have developed an animal model for neuropathic pain using young adult male Sprague-Dawley rats. The model was confirmed by behavioral tests. Electroacupuncture (EA) treatment was applied to Zusanli (ST36) of neuropathic pain model to examine the analgesic effect of EA. The protein expression profile of the hypothalamus in both neuropathic pain and EA treatment models was analyzed using two-dimensional electrophoresis-based proteomics. We detected thirty-six proteins that were differentially expressed in the neuropathic pain model compared with normal rats and that restored to normal expression levels after EA treatment. Twenty-one of these proteins were identified in the MS-FiT database and are involved in a number of biological processes, including inflammation, enzyme metabolism and signal transduction. Potential applications of our results include the identification and characterization of signaling pathways involved in EA treatment and further exploration of the role of selected identified proteins in the animal model.