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      Electroacupuncture Inhibits Hyperalgesia by Alleviating Inflammatory Factors in a Rat Model of Migraine

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          Acupuncture has a therapeutic effect similar to that of prophylactic drugs and can be considered a treatment option for migraineurs. However, the mechanism of acupuncture treatment’s effect on migraine is uncertain. An approach based on anti-inflammatory effects is an important treatment strategy for migraine because non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are usually used during migraine attacks. Meningeal inflammation is thought to be responsible for the activation of the trigeminovascular system. Our previous study found that electroacupuncture (EA) decreased neurogenic inflammation mediator expression in the trigeminal ganglion (TG) and alleviated hyperalgesia. The present study examined whether EA would inhibit hyperalgesia by alleviating neurogenic inflammatory factors.


          A rat model of migraine was established using dural electrical stimulation (DES). Five groups were analyzed in this study. The Model group received DES three times to mimic migraine attacks, a Control group had sham DES, and three groups received electroacupuncture after DES: a Non-Acu group at a non-acupuncture point, a GB20 group at GB20, and a GB20/34 group at GB20 and GB34 acupuncture points. We evaluated mechanical hyperalgesia using an electronic von Frey esthesiometer in the awake state. After sacrifice, the dura mater was analyzed using immunofluorescence. Serum calcitonin gene-related peptide, cyclooxygenase-2, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF levels were determined using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays to evaluate the anti-inflammatory effect of acupuncture.


          After repeated DES, we observed facial and hind paw mechanical hyperalgesia, which was inhibited by electroacupuncture. Electrical stimulation increased the number of mast cells and macrophages and serum levels of inflammatory factors. GB20 and GB20/34 electroacupuncture significantly decreased the number of mast cells and macrophages and serum levels of inflammatory factors. Moreover, electroacupuncture at GB20/34 was superior to that at GB20 alone in inhibiting hyperalgesia and alleviating inflammatory factors.


          Electroacupuncture inhibits DES-induced hyperalgesia by alleviating inflammatory factors. Inhibition of dural mast cells, macrophages, and serum inflammatory factors may be one of the mechanisms involved in acupuncture treatment’s effect on migraine.

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          Most cited references 43

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          Macrophages in inflammation.

          The inflammatory process is usually tightly regulated, involving both signals that initiate and maintain inflammation and signals that shut the process down. An imbalance between the two signals leaves inflammation unchecked, resulting in cellular and tissue damage. Macrophages are a major component of the mononuclear phagocyte system that consists of closely related cells of bone marrow origin, including blood monocytes, and tissue macrophages. From the blood, monocytes migrate into various tissues and transform macrophages. In inflammation, macrophages have three major function; antigen presentation, phagocytosis, and immunomodulation through production of various cytokines and growth factors. Macrophages play a critical role in the initiation, maintenance, and resolution of inflammation. They are activated and deactivated in the inflammatory process. Activation signals include cytokines (interferon gamma, granulocyte-monocyte colony stimulating factor, and tumor necrosis factor alpha), bacterial lipopolysaccharide, extracellular matrix proteins, and other chemical mediators. Inhibition of inflammation by removal or deactivation of mediators and inflammatory effector cells permits the host to repair damages tissues. Activated macrophages are deactivated by anti-inflammatory cytokines (interleukin 10 and transforming growth factor beta) and cytokine antagonists that are mainly produced by macrophages. Macrophages participate in the autoregulatory loop in the inflammatory process. Because macrophages produce a wide range of biologically active molecules participated in both beneficial and detrimental outcomes in inflammation, therapeutic interventions targeted macrophages and their products may open new avenues for controlling inflammatory diseases.
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            Migraine pathophysiology: anatomy of the trigeminovascular pathway and associated neurological symptoms, cortical spreading depression, sensitization, and modulation of pain.

            Scientific evidence supports the notion that migraine pathophysiology involves inherited alteration of brain excitability, intracranial arterial dilatation, recurrent activation, and sensitization of the trigeminovascular pathway, and consequential structural and functional changes in genetically susceptible individuals. Evidence of altered brain excitability emerged from clinical and preclinical investigation of sensory auras, ictal and interictal hypersensitivity to visual, auditory, and olfactory stimulation, and reduced activation of descending inhibitory pain pathways. Data supporting the activation and sensitization of the trigeminovascular system include the progressive development of cephalic and whole-body cutaneous allodynia during a migraine attack. In addition, structural and functional alterations include the presence of subcortical white mater lesions, thickening of cortical areas involved in processing sensory information, and cortical neuroplastic changes induced by cortical spreading depression. Here, we review recent anatomical data on the trigeminovascular pathway and its activation by cortical spreading depression, a novel understanding of the neural substrate of migraine-type photophobia, and modulation of the trigeminovascular pathway by the brainstem, hypothalamus and cortex. Copyright © 2013 International Association for the Study of Pain. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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              Cutaneous allodynia as a predictor of migraine chronification.

              Cutaneous allodynia is a common feature accompanying migraine attacks and considered a clinical marker for central sensitization. In a longitudinal study, we wanted to investigate if allodynia in migraine patients is a predictor of increasing frequency of migraine days. We included 3029 well-defined, web-based migraine patients (86% female, mean age 42.8 ± 11.4 years, 61% migraine without aura). Questionnaires on migraine characteristics (including allodynia), depression and demographic factors were applied. The number of migraine days was measured twice. Multivariate regression models were used, with correction for other factors that are involved in the relation between allodynia and the number of migraine attacks or migraine days, with specific focus on depression. Of all 2331 eligible migraine patients, 1624 (70%) had allodynia. Lifetime depression was an independent risk factor for allodynia (odds ratio 1.52, 95% confidence interval 1.26-1.84), as well as female gender, low age at onset, and high migraine attack frequency. Analysis of the longitudinal data (in migraineurs with a follow-up period of >6 months) showed that, apart from the known risk factors (low age at onset, high baseline number of migraine days, and depression), allodynia was an independent predictor for increase in number of migraine days over a mean follow-up period of 93 ± 30 weeks (median 103 weeks, range 26-160 weeks). Cutaneous allodynia is a risk factor for migraine chronification and may warrant preventive treatment strategies.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                13 January 2020
                : 13
                : 75-86
                [1 ]Acupuncture and Moxibustion Department, Beijing Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Capital Medical University, Beijing Key Laboratory of Acupuncture Neuromodulation , Beijing, People’s Republic of China
                [2 ]Beijing Key Laboratory of Clinic and Basic Research with Traditional Chinese Medicine on Psoriasis, Beijing Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine , Beijing, People’s Republic of China
                [3 ]Institute of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences , Beijing, People’s Republic of China
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Bin Li; Xianghong Jing Email libin@bjzhongyi.com; jxhtjb@263.net

                These authors contributed equally to this work

                © 2020 Zhao et al.

                This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited. The full terms of this license are available at https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/). By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed. For permission for commercial use of this work, please see paragraphs 4.2 and 5 of our Terms ( https://www.dovepress.com/terms.php).

                Page count
                Figures: 6, References: 50, Pages: 12
                This study was supported by the China National Natural Science Foundation (No. 81603683), China Postdoctoral Science Foundation funded project (2018M630261), Beijing Municipal Administration of Hospitals’ Youth Programme (QML20181001), Beijing Municipal Science & Technology Commission (No. Z171100001017033) and Beijing Dongcheng District Excellent Talent Development Funding (2019WJGW-10-05).
                Original Research


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