Medical Research

Acupuncture in Lab Mice for Alcohol Withdrawal

Kristen Sparrow • December 30, 2012


Ancient Wisdom Through the Ages

This study shows that electroacupuncture during alcohol withdrawal in mice improves with electroacupuncture of 100 Hz at Du14 and Du 20 and not at Susanli and Neiguan.  This study is beyond my expertise, but I applaud the study design which compares acupoints as well as including controls.  In addition, it is counterintuitive that Du14 and Du20 would be more effective.
Int J Neuropsychopharmacol. 2012 Sep;15(8):1121-33.
Electroacupuncture reverses ethanol-induced locomotor sensitization and subsequent pERK expression in mice.
Fallopa P, Escosteguy-Neto JC, Varela P, Carvalho TN, Tabosa AM, Santos JG Jr.
Laboratory of Neurobiology, Group of Neuronal Plasticity and Psychiatric Disorders, Federal University of São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil.
Extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) plays a role in neuronal changes induced by repeated drug exposure. Given that electroacupuncture reverses locomotor sensitization induced by ethanol, we investigated whether this effect is parallel to ERK signalling. Mice received daily ethanol (2 g/kg i.p), for 21 d. Electroacupuncture was performed daily, during four (subsequent) days of ethanol withdrawal. The stimulus of 2 Hz or 100 Hz was provided in combinations of two acupoints: Ea1 (ST-36/Zusanli and PC-6/Neiguan) or Ea2 (Du-14/Dazhui and Du-20/Baihui). The specificity of acupoint effects were assessed by the inclusion of additional groups: Ea3 (ST-25/Tianshu–acupoint used for other non-related disorders), Sham1 or Sham2 (transdermic stimulation near the respective acupoints). The control group was only handled during withdrawal and the saline group was chronically treated with saline and handled similarly to controls. At day 5 of withdrawal, each group was divided in two subgroups, according to the presence or absence of ethanol challenge. The animals were perfused and their brains processed for pERK immunohistochemistry. Only Ea1 at 100 Hz (Ea1_100) and Ea2 at 2 Hz (Ea2_2) reversed locomotor sensitization induced by ethanol. Ethanol withdrawal decreases pERK in the dorsomedial striatum. This decrease is not abolished by electroacupuncture. Conversely, ethanol challenge increases pERK in the dorsomedial striatum, infralimbic cortex and central nucleus of amygdala. The specificity of acupoint stimulation to reverse these increases was seen only for Ea2_2, in the infralimbic cortex and dorsomedial striatum. Therefore, behavioural effects of Ea2_2 (but not Ea1_100) depend, at least in part, on ERK signalling.