Kristen Sparrow • April 02, 2020
Believe it or not, this might be relevant to the current covid crisis since patients are having a “cytokine storm”. Possibly electro acupuncture would help. It won’t happen, but maybe in the future.
Previous anti-inflammatory strategies against sepsis, a leading cause of death in hospitals, had limited efficacy in clinical trials, in part because they targeted single cytokines and the experimental models failed to mimic clinical settings1-3. Neuronal networks represent physiological mechanisms selected by evolution to control inflammation that can be exploited for the treatment of inflammatory and infectious disorders3. Here, we report that sciatic nerve activation with electroacupuncture controls systemic inflammation and rescues mice from polymicrobial peritonitis. Electroacupuncture at the sciatic nerve controls systemic inflammation by inducing a vagal activation of DOPA decarboxylase leading to the production of dopamine in the adrenal medulla. Experimental models with adrenolectomized animals mimic clinical adrenal insufficiency4, increase the susceptibility to sepsis, and prevent the anti-inflammatory potential of electroacupuncture. Dopamine inhibits cytokine production via dopaminergic type-1 receptors. Dopaminergic D1-agonists suppress systemic inflammation and rescue mice from polymicrobial peritonitis in animals with adrenal insufficiency. Our results suggest a novel anti-inflammatory mechanism mediated by the sciatic and the vagus nerves modulating the production of catecholamines in the adrenal glands. From a pharmacological perspective, selective dopaminergic agonists mimic the anti-inflammatory potential of electroacupuncture and can provide therapeutic advantages to control inflammation in infectious and inflammatory disorders.