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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 216016, 17 pages
Review Article

From Acupuncture to Interaction between -Opioid Receptors and Na+ Channels: A Potential Pathway to Inhibit Epileptic Hyperexcitability

1The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Houston, TX 77030, USA
2Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA
3Shanghai Research Center for Acupuncture and Meridians, Shanghai 201203, China
4Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Shanghai 201203, China

Received 24 August 2012; Revised 10 November 2012; Accepted 13 December 2012

Academic Editor: Di Zhang

Copyright © 2013 Dongman Chao et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological disorders affecting about 1% of population. Although the precise mechanism of its pathophysiological changes in the brain is unknown, epilepsy has been recognized as a disorder of brain excitability characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures that result from the abnormal, excessive, and synchronous activity of clusters of nerve cells in the brain. Currently available therapies, including medical, surgical, and other strategies, such as ketogenic diet and vagus nerve stimulation, are symptomatic with their own limitations and complications. Seeking new strategies to cure this serious disorder still poses a big challenge to the field of medicine. Our recent studies suggest that acupuncture may exert its antiepileptic effects by normalizing the disrupted neuronal and network excitability through several mechanisms, including lowering the overexcited neuronal activity, enhancing the inhibitory system, and attenuating the excitatory system in the brain via regulation of the interaction between δ-opioid receptors (DOR) and Na+ channels. This paper reviews the progress in this field and summarizes new knowledge based on our work and those of others.