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      Mast cell deficiency attenuates acupuncture analgesia for mechanical pain using c-kit gene mutant rats

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          Acupuncture therapy plays a pivotal role in pain relief, and increasing evidence demonstrates that mast cells (MCs) may mediate acupuncture analgesia. The present study aims to investigate the role of MCs in acupuncture analgesia using c-kit gene mutant–induced MC-deficient rats.

          Materials and methods

          WsRC-Ws/Ws rats and their wild-type (WT) littermates (WsRC-+/+) were used. The number of MCs in skin of ST36 area was compared in two rats after immunofluorescence labeling. Mechanical withdrawal latency (MWL), mechanical withdrawal threshold (MWT), and thermal withdrawal latency (TWL) were measured on bilateral plantar for pain threshold evaluation before and after each stimulus. Acupuncture- and moxibustion-like stimuli (43°C, 46°C heat, 1 mA electroacupuncture [EA], 3 mA EA, and manual acupuncture [MA]) were applied randomly on different days.


          Fewer MCs were observed in the skin of ST36 in mutant rats compared to WT rats ( P<0.001). For pain thresholds, MWL and MWT were higher in WsRC-Ws/Ws compared to WsRC-+/+ on bilateral paws ( P<0.05), but TWL was not different between the two rats ( P>0.05). Bilateral MWL and MWT in WsRC-+/+ rats increased significantly after each stimulus compared to baseline ( P<0.01, P<0.001). In WsRC-Ws/Ws rats, only noxious stimuli could produce anti-nociceptive effects for mechanical pain (46°C, 3 mA EA, MA) ( P<0.01, P<0.001). Additionally, the net increases in MWL and MWT induced by most stimuli were greater in WT than in mutant rats ( P<0.05). For thermal nociception, either high- or low-intensity stimuli could significantly augment TWL in two rats ( P<0.001), and the net increases of TWL evoked by most stimuli were to the same extent in two genetic variants.


          MCs influence the basic mechanical but not thermal pain threshold. MCs participate in acupuncture analgesia in mechanical but not in thermal nociception, in that MC deficiency may attenuate the mechanical analgesia evoked by high-intensity stimuli and eliminate analgesia provoked by low-intensity stimuli.

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          Most cited references 63

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          Mast cells in the development of adaptive immune responses.

          Mast cells are so widely recognized as critical effector cells in allergic disorders and other immunoglobulin E-associated acquired immune responses that it can be difficult to think of them in any other context. However, mast cells also can be important as initiators and effectors of innate immunity. In addition, mast cells that are activated during innate immune responses to pathogens, or in other contexts, can secrete products and have cellular functions with the potential to facilitate the development, amplify the magnitude or regulate the kinetics of adaptive immune responses. Thus, mast cells may influence the development, intensity and duration of adaptive immune responses that contribute to host defense, allergy and autoimmunity, rather than simply functioning as effector cells in these settings.
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            Mast cell-deficient W-sash c-kit mutant Kit W-sh/W-sh mice as a model for investigating mast cell biology in vivo.

            Mice carrying certain mutations in the white spotting (W) locus (ie, c-kit) exhibit reduced c-kit tyrosine kinase-dependent signaling that results in mast cell deficiency and other phenotypic abnormalities. The c-kit mutations in Kit(W/W-v) mice impair melanogenesis and result in anemia, sterility, and markedly reduced levels of tissue mast cells. In contrast, Kit(W-sh/W-sh) mice, bearing the W-sash (W(sh)) inversion mutation, have mast cell deficiency but lack anemia and sterility. We report that adult Kit(W-sh/W-sh) mice had a profound deficiency in mast cells in all tissues examined but normal levels of major classes of other differentiated hematopoietic and lymphoid cells. Unlike Kit(W/W-v) mice, Kit(W-sh/W-sh) mice had normal numbers of TCR gammadelta intraepithelial lymphocytes in the intestines and did not exhibit a high incidence of idiopathic dermatitis, ulcers, or squamous papillomas of the stomach, but like Kit(W/W-v) mice, they lacked interstitial cells of Cajal in the gut and exhibited bile reflux into the stomach. Systemic or local reconstitution of mast cell populations was achieved in nonirradiated adult Kit(W-sh/W-sh) mice by intravenous, intraperitoneal, or intradermal injection of wild-type bone marrow-derived cultured mast cells but not by transplantation of wild-type bone marrow cells. Thus, Kit(W-sh/W-sh) mice represent a useful model for mast cell research, especially for analyzing mast cell function in vivo.
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              Agonists of proteinase-activated receptor 2 induce inflammation by a neurogenic mechanism.

              Trypsin and mast cell tryptase cleave proteinase-activated receptor 2 and, by unknown mechanisms, induce widespread inflammation. We found that a large proportion of primary spinal afferent neurons, which express proteinase-activated receptor 2, also contain the proinflammatory neuropeptides calcitonin gene-related peptide and substance P. Trypsin and tryptase directly signal to neurons to stimulate release of these neuropeptides, which mediate inflammatory edema induced by agonists of proteinase-activated receptor 2. This new mechanism of protease-induced neurogenic inflammation may contribute to the proinflammatory effects of mast cells in human disease. Thus, tryptase inhibitors and antagonists of proteinase-activated receptor 2 may be useful anti-inflammatory agents.

                Author and article information

                J Pain Res
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                05 March 2018
                : 11
                : 483-495
                [1 ]Department of Physiology, Institute of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing, China
                [2 ]College of Acupuncture and Orthopedics, Hubei University of Chinese Medicine, Wuhan, China
                [3 ]Classic TCM Department, The Affiliated Hospital of Shandong University of TCM, Jinan, China
                [4 ]Acupuncture and Massage Department, Hangzhou Qihuang Traditional Chinese Medicine Clinic, Hangzhou, China
                [5 ]TCM and Rehabilitation Department, The Third Hospital of Ulanchap, Ulanchap, China
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Xinyan Gao; Bing Zhu, Institute of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, 16 Nanxiaojie Street, Dongzhimennei, Beijing 100700, China, Tel +86 106 408 9422, Email gaoxy@ 123456mail.cintcm.ac.cn ; zhubing@ 123456mail.cintcm.ac.cn

                These authors contributed equally to this work

                © 2018 Cui 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.

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