Acupuncture stimulation has proven to protect dopaminergic neurons from oxidative damage in animal models of Parkinson’s disease (PD), but it remains unclear about the in situ information of biochemical components in dopaminergic neurons. Here, we aimed to analyse in situ changes of biochemical components and lipid peroxidation levels in dopaminergic neurons in PD mice treated with acupuncture by synchrotron FTIR micro-spectroscopy technique.
About 9-10-week-old C57BL/6 mice were used to establish PD model by intraperitoneal injection of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP, 30 mg/kg for 5 days). Acupuncture stimulation was performed once a day for 12 days. Behaviour test was determined using the rotarod instrument. Biochemical compositions of dopaminergic neurons in substantia nigra pars compacta were analysed by synchrotron FTIR micro-spectroscopy technique. The number and ultrastructure of dopaminergic neurons were respectively observed by immunofluorescence and transmission electron microscopy (TEM).
We found that the number and protein expression of dopaminergic neurons in MPTP-treated mice were reduced by about half, while that in the mice treated by acupuncture were significantly restored. Acupuncture treatment also restored the motor ability of PD mice. The results of single cell imaging with synchrotron FTIR micro-spectroscopy technique showed that the proportion of lipid in MPTP treated mice increased significantly. Especially the ratio of CH asymmetric stretching and CH asymmetric stretching increased significantly, suggesting that MPTP induced lipid peroxidation damage of dopaminergic neurons. It is also supported by the result of TEM, such as mitochondrial swelling or atrophy, loss of mitochondrial crests and mitochondrial vacuolization. Compared with MPTP treated mice, the proportion of lipid in acupuncture treated mice decreased and the mitochondrial structure was restored.
Acupuncture can inhibit the level of lipid peroxides in dopaminergic neurons and protect neurons from oxidative damage. The study provides a promising method for in situ analysis of biochemical compositions in PD mice and reveals the mechanism of acupuncture in treating neurodegenerative diseases.

© 2022 The Authors. Cell Proliferation published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.