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Anterior cingulate cortex is crucial for contra- but not ipsi-lateral electro-acupuncture in the formalin-induced inflammatory pain model of rats

Author(s): Yi Ming | Zhang Haolin | Lao Lixing | Xing Guo-Gang | Wan You

Journal: Molecular Pain
ISSN 1744-8069

Volume: 7;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 61;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: pain | acupuncture | electroacupuncture | anterior cingulate cortex | formalin test

Abstract Acupuncture and electro-acupuncture (EA) are now widely used to treat disorders like pain. We and others have shown previously that current frequency, intensity and treatment duration all significantly influence the anti-nociceptive effects of EA. There is evidence that stimulating sites also affect the antinociception, with EA applied ipsilaterally to the pain site being more effective under some pain states but contralateral EA under others. It was recently reported that local adenosine A1 receptors were responsible for ipsilateral acupuncture, but what mechanisms specifically mediate the anti-nociceptive effects of contralateral acupuncture or EA remains unclear. In the present study, we applied 100 Hz EA on the ipsi- or contra-lateral side of rats with inflammatory pain induced by intra-plantar injection of formalin, and reported distinct anti-nociceptive effects and mechanisms between them. Both ipsi- and contra-lateral EA reduced the paw lifting time in the second phase of the formalin test and attenuated formalin-induced conditioned place aversion. Contralateral EA had an additional effect of reducing paw licking time, suggesting a supraspinal mechanism. Lesions of rostral anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) completely abolished the anti-nociceptive effects of contra- but not ipsi-lateral EA. These findings were not lateralized effects, since injection of formalin into the left or right hind paws produced similar results. Overall, these results demonstrated distinct anti-nociceptive effects and mechanisms between different stimulating sides and implied the necessity of finding the best stimulating protocols for different pain states.
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