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The regulatory effect of electro-acupuncture on the expression of NMDA receptors in a SCI rat model

Tu, Wen-Zhan, Chen, Wen-Ci, Xia, Wan, He, Rong, Hu, Jie, Jiang, Ming-Chen, Jiang, Song-He
Life sciences 2017 v.177 pp. 8-14
Western blotting, animal injuries, animal models, calcium, cell death, fluorescent antibody technique, glutamate receptors, humans, neuroprotective effect, permeability, quantitative polymerase chain reaction, rats, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, spinal cord
In early spinal cord injury (SCI), glutamate receptors, including N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors (NMDARs), are over-stimulated by excessively released glutamate. The enhanced activity of NMDARs may cause cell death by overloading calcium (Ca2+) into cells based on their high permeability to Ca2+. Studies in SCI animals have shown that treatment with electro-acupuncture (EA) is able to reduce cell death and to improve functional recovery. One possible mechanism of this neuroprotective effect is that EA has regulatory effect on NMDARs.To test whether EA could protect the spinal cord after SCI by decreasing the expression levels of NR1 and NR2A.We conducted EA treatment on a rat SCI model produced with a New York University (NYU) Impactor and measured hindlimb locomotor function by Basso, Beattie and Bresnahan Locomotor Rating Scale (BBB Scale). The expression of NR1 and NR2, the subunits of NMDARs, in the injured spinal cord was measured by Immunofluorescence stainings, western blot and real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR).Our results showed that two days after the SCI the expression of NR1 and NR2 were dramatically enhanced at both protein and mNRA levels, which were significantly reduced by EA treatment at two specific acupoints, Dazhui (DU14) and Mingmen (DU4).EA is a potential therapeutic method for treating early SCI in human.