- 2016;19;E435-E448Analgesic Effects and Neuropathology Changes of Electroacupuncture on Curing a Rat Model of Brachial Plexus Neuralgia Induced by Cobra Venom
Hui Liu, MD, PhD, Xiao-Yan Qian, CRNA, Jian-Xiong An, MD, PhD, Cai-Cai Liu, MD, Yi-De Jiang, MD, Doris K Cope, MD, and John P. Williams, MD.
BACKGROUND: Electroacupuncture (EA) is widely applied to treat neuropathic pain. Brachial plexus neuralgia (BPN) is a common form of chronic persistent pain. Few studies have evaluated the analgesic effects and mechanism of EA using the novel animal model of BPN.
OBJECTIVE: To observe the curative effects of repeated EA on curing BPN induced by administration of cobra venom to the lower trunk of the right brachial plexus.
STUDY DESIGN: Controlled animal study.
SETTING: Department of Anesthesiology, Pain Medicine & Critical Care Medicine, Aviation General Hospital of China Medical University.
METHODS: Sixty-six adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were equally and randomly divided into the following groups: normal control (NC), brachial plexus neuralgia (BPN), BPN with sham EA stimulation, BPN with EA stimulation starting on postoperative day 1 (EA1), and BPN with EA stimulation starting on postoperative day 12 (EA12). The BPN model was established by administration of cobra venom to the lower trunk of the right brachial plexus. On postoperative day 1 or day 12, EA (constant aquare wave, 2 Hz and 100 Hz alternating frequencies, intensities ranging from 1 – 1.5 – 2 mA) was applied to the right “Shousanli” (LI10) and “Quchi” (LI11) acupoints for 30 minutes, once every other day for 12 times in both groups. Mechanical withdrawal thresholds (MWT) were tested with von Frey filaments. Video recordings were conducted to analyze the spontaneous exploratory behaviors. Moreover, the organizational and structural alterations of the right brachial plexus and cervical cord (C8-T1) were examined via light and electron microscopy.
RESULTS: Following the production of the BPN model, the MWT of both ipsilateral and contralateral paws demonstrated a profound decrease (P < 0.05). But after EA interventions, the MWT showed a significant increase (P < 0.05). In comparison to the EA12 group, the analgesic effects of the EA1 group were more significant, and similar results were observed in exploratory behaviors. However, grooming behaviors did not demonstrate significant differences. Meanwhile, on day 12 after surgery it was observed under light microscopy that the inflammatory response in the right brachial plexus and cervical cord (C8-T1) were significantly attenuated after EA stimulation. Furthermore, the demyelination of the brachial plexus and cervical cord (C8-T1) were also reversed.
LIMITATIONS: Limitations include the fact that there was demyelination of the cervical cord (C8-T1) in the control group because of inappropriate manipulation.
CONCLUSION: Repeated EA contributes significant analgesic effects in the treatment of BPN.