To identify the prominent molecular signaling in acupoints and explore their roles in initiating the analgesia effect of manual acupuncture (MA).
A three-step study was conducted, the experiment 1 was a genome-wide analysis of the tissue at acupoint Zusanli (ST 36), including 12 Wistar rats which were divided into control, control+MA1, and control+MA7 groups. In the experiment 2, the paw withdrawal latency (PWL), immunohistochemistry and Western blot analysis of phospho-nuclear factor kappa B (NFκB) p65 (p-p65), phospho-NFκB p50 (p-p50) at ST 36 were performed on rats of saline, saline+MA, and complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA)+MA groups (n=6). In experiment 3, 24 rats were divided into saline+DMSO, CFA+DMSO, CFA+DMSO+MA, and CFA+BAY 11-7082+MA groups, the PWL and immunofluorescence assay of NFκB p65 at ST 36 was conducted.
(1) The gene: inhibitor of NFκB (Nfkbia), interleukin-1β (Il1b), interleukin-6 (Il6), chemokine c-x-c motif ligand 1 (Cxcl1), monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1/Ccl2) expressions in the control+MA7 group were significantly increased (P<0.05 or P<0.01), and the expression of NFκB p65 (Rela), NFκB p50 (Nfkb1) were increased in the control+MA7 group (P<0.05). (2) CFA+MA groups showed increased PWL from day 1 to 7 (P<0.01 vs. CFA), and the Western blot results were consistent with immunohistochemistry, the expression of NFκB p-p65 and NFκB p-p50 were significantly increased in the MA-related groups compared with control and CFA groups (P<0.05). (3) Compared with the CFA+DMSO+MA group, the PWL of the CFA+ BAY 11-7082+MA group decreased significantly and continued until day 5 and 7 (P<0.05 and P<0.01, respectively), and the NFκB p65 expression of CFA+BAY 11-7082+MA was significantly reduced compared with CFA+DMSO+MA (P<0.01).
Local NFκB signaling cascade in acupoint caused by MA is an important step in initiating the analgesic effect, which would provide new evidence for the initiation of MA-effect and improve the understanding of the scientific basis of acupuncture analgesia.