Electroacupuncture Potentiates Cannabinoid Receptor-Mediated Descending Inhibitory Control in a Mouse Model of Knee Osteoarthritis.
Front Mol Neurosci. 2018 ;11:112. Epub 2018 Apr 6. PMID: 29681797
Knee osteoarthritis (KOA) is a highly prevalent, chronic joint disorder, which can lead to chronic pain. Although electroacupuncture (EA) is effective in relieving chronic pain in the clinic, the involved mechanisms remain unclear. Reduced diffuse noxius inhibitory controls (DNIC) function is associated with chronic pain and may be related to the action of endocannabinoids. In the present study, we determined whether EA may potentiate cannabinoid receptor-mediated descending inhibitory control and inhibit chronic pain in a mouse model of KOA. We found that the optimized parameters of EA inhibiting chronic pain were the low frequency and high intensity (2 Hz + 1 mA). EA reversed the reduced expression of CB1 receptors and the 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) level in the midbrain in chronic pain. Microinjection of the CB1 receptor antagonist AM251 into the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (vlPAG) can reversed the EA effect on pain hypersensitivity and DNIC function. In addition, CB1 receptors on GABAergic but not glutamatergic neurons are involved in the EA effect on DNIC function and descending inhibitory control of 5-HT in the medulla, thus inhibiting chronic pain. Our data suggest that endocannabinoid (2-AG)-CB1R-GABA-5-HT may be a novel signaling pathway involved in the effect of EA improving DNIC function and inhibiting chronic pain.