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Review ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Integr. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnint.2019.00038

The involvement of descending pain inhibitory system in electroacupuncture-induced analgesia

 Qiuyi Lv1,  Fengzhi Wu1, Xiulun Gan1, Xueqin Yang1, Ling Zhou1,  Jie Chen1,  Yinjia He1,  Rong Zhang1,  Bixiu Zhu1 and Lanying Liu1*
  • 1Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, China

Chronic pain is a major health problem, which would impair life quality and reduce productivity. Electroacupuncture (EA), a modality of medicine based on the theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine, presents great therapeutic effects on chronic pain. The clinic application has gained increasing popularity, and in parallel, more researches have been performed on the mechanisms of EA-induced analgesia. The past decades have seen enormous advances both in neuronal circuitry of needle-insertion and in its molecular mechanism. EA blocks pain by activating the descending pain inhibitory system, which originates in the brainstem and terminates at the spinal cord. This review synthesizes corresponding studies to elucidate how EA alleviate pain via the mediation of this descending system. Much emphasis has been put on the implication of descending serotonergic and noradrenergic pathways in the process of pain modulation. Also, other important transmitters and supraspinal regions related to analgesic effects of EA has been demonstrated. Finally, it should be noticed that there exists some shortcomings involved in the animal experimental design for EA, which account for conflicting results obtained by different studies.

Keywords: Analgesia, Serotonin (5HT), Electroacupucnture, Noradrenaline (NA), Descending pain inhibitory system

Received: 16 Apr 2019; Accepted: 30 Jul 2019.

Edited by:

Zhang-Jin Zhang, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Reviewed by:

Kuan Hong Wang, Medical Center, University of Rochester, United States
Michelino Puopolo, Stony Brook University, United States  

Copyright: © 2019 Lv, Wu, Gan, Yang, Zhou, Chen, He, Zhang, Zhu and Liu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Lanying Liu, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing, China,