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Acupuncture regulates the unfolded protein response and inhibits apoptosis in a rat model of heroin relapse
  1. Yang Zhang1,
  2. Xing-Hui Cai1,
  3. Rong-Jun Zhang4,
  4. Xiao-Rong Hou4,
  5. Xiao-Ge Song2,
  6. Sheng-Bing Wu3,
  7. Shuang Yu2,
  8. Jiang-Peng Cao1
  1. 1Clincal College of Acupuncture-Moxibustion and Orthopedic, Anhui University of Chinese Medicine, Hefei, Anhui Province, China
  2. 2Institute of Acupuncture and Meridian, Anhui University of Chinese Medicine, Hefei, Anhui Province, China
  3. 3Key Laboratory of Xin'an Medicine Constructed by Anhui Province and Chinese Ministry of Education, Anhui University of Chinese Medicine, Hefei, Anhui Province, China
  4. 4Clincal College of Chinese and western medicine, Anhui University of Chinese Medicine, Hefei, Anhui Province, China
  1. Correspondence to Professor Xiao-Ge Song, Institute of Acupuncture and Meridian, Anhui University of Chinese Medicine, No.103 Meishan Road Hefei, Anhui Province 230038, China; zsongxg0128{at}163.com

Abstract

Object To explore the unfolded protein response (UPR) in the hippocampus of rats undergoing heroin relapse and the mechanisms underlying the acupuncture-mediated inhibition of brain damage caused by heroin relapse.

Methods 60 Sprague-Dawley rats (30 females and 30 males) were randomly divided into four groups: Control group, Heroin group, Heroin+acupuncture group, and Heroin+methadone group (n=15 each). In the latter three groups, a model of heroin addiction was established by successive increments of intramuscular heroin injections for 8 days, according to the exposure (addiction)→detoxification method. A UPR RT2 Profiler PCR array was used to screen for differentially expressed genes in the hippocampus. Apoptosis was detected by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labelling (TUNEL) staining. The protein expression levels of the following three differentially expressed genes were detected by Western blot to validate the results of the PCR array: heat shock protein (HSP)70, HSP105, and valosin-containing protein (Vcp).

Results The UPR RT2 Profiler PCR Array detection results indicated that acupuncture increased the expression levels of the molecular chaperones HSP70, HSP105, and Vcp. The degree of neuronal apoptosis in the hippocampus of rats in the Heroin+acupuncture and Heroin+methadone groups was significantly reduced compared with the untreated Heroin group (p<0.01). Protein expression of HSP70, HSP105, and Vcp in the Heroin+acupuncture and Heroin+methadone groups was significantly higher than the Heroin group (p<0.01).

Conclusions The positive effects of acupuncture on brain damage caused by heroin may be closely related to up-regulation of HSP70, HSP105, and Vcp, and reduced apoptosis.

  • ACUPUNCTURE
  • BASIC SCIENCES

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Footnotes

  • Contributors XS designed the study. YZ performed most of the experiments, analysed the data and wrote the paper. XC, RZ, RX, SW, SY and JC performed some of the experiments and revised the paper.

  • Funding This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 81173325)

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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