From peripheral to central: the role of ERK signaling pathway in acupuncture analgesia.
UNLABELLED: Despite accumulating evidence of the clinical effectiveness of acupuncture, its mechanism remains largely unclear. We assume that molecular signaling around the acupuncture needled area is essential for initiating the effect of acupuncture. To determine possible bio-candidates involved in the mechanisms of acupuncture and investigate the role of such bio-candidates in the analgesic effects of acupuncture, we conducted 2 stepwise experiments. First, a genome-wide microarray of the isolated skin layer at the GB34-equivalent acupoint of C57BL/6 mice 1 hour after acupuncture found that a total of 236 genes had changed and that extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) activation was the most prominent bio-candidate. Second, in mouse pain models using formalin and complete Freund adjuvant, we found that acupuncture attenuated the nociceptive behavior and the mechanical allodynia; these effects were blocked when ERK cascade was interrupted by the mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK)/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) inhibitor U0126 (.8 μg/μL). Based on these results, we suggest that ERK phosphorylation following acupuncture needling is a biochemical hallmark initiating the effect of acupuncture including analgesia. PERSPECTIVE: This article presents the novel evidence of the local molecular signaling in acupuncture analgesia by demonstrating that ERK activation in the skin layer contributes to the analgesic effect of acupuncture in a mouse pain model. This work improves our understanding of the scientific basis underlying acupuncture analgesia.
Park, J-Y; Park, JJ; Jeon, S; Doo, A-R; Kim, S-N; Lee, H; Chae, Y; Maixner, W; Lee, H; Park, H-J
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