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Electroacupuncture pretreatment induces rapid tolerance to bupivacaine cardiotoxicity in rats
  1. Jun-Long Gao1,
  2. Yu-Lan Li1,
  3. Xiu-Mei Wang1,
  4. Qian-Long Zhao2,
  5. Hai-Jun Zhang1,
  6. Fang-Fang Han1,
  7. Xia-Xia Li1,
  8. Dong-Hang Zhang1
  1. 1Department of Anaesthesiology, The First Hospital of Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, PR China
  2. 2School of Public Health, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, PR China
  1. Correspondence to Dr Yu-Lan Li, Department of Anaesthesiology, The First Hospital of Lanzhou University, Donggangxilu, 1#, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China; east_tale{at}


Background Evidence suggests that electroacupuncture (EA) protects against arrhythmia and myocardial injury induced by myocardial ischaemia-reperfusion. However, to our knowledge, it remains unknown whether EA could alleviate bupivacaine-induced cardiotoxicity. Therefore, we aimed to explore the effect of EA pretreatment on bupivacaine-induced cardiac arrest and outcomes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in rats.

Methods 24 adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into two groups: EA (n=12), and minimal acupuncture (MA) (n=12). Rats in both groups were needled at bilateral PC6, ST36, and ST40. Needles in the EA group were electrically stimulated for 60 min. ECG and invasive arterial blood pressure measurements were recorded. Two hours after EA or MA, 10 mg/kg bupivacaine was infused intravenously at a rate of 5 mg/kg/min in all rats. Rats suffering cardiac arrest were immediately subjected to CPR. At the end of the experiment, arterial blood samples were taken from surviving rats for blood gas analysis.

Results The time from bupivacaine infusion until 20% prolongation of the QRS and QT interval, and the time to cardiac arrest, were notably increased among the rats pretreated with EA. Moreover, EA pretreatment significantly improved mean arterial pressure and heart rate at all monitored points after bupivacaine infusion. The proportion of animals surviving was higher in the EA group (9/12) than the MA group (3/12) at the end of experiment (p=0.039).

Conclusions Tolerance to bupivacaine-induced cardiotoxicity appeared to be increased following EA pre-treatment. The mechanism of action underlying the effects of EA on bupivacaine-induced cardiotoxicity requires further investigation.


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