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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 158987, 10 pages
Research Article

Effects of Chronic Electroacupuncture on Depression- and Anxiety-Like Behaviors in Rats with Chronic Neuropathic Pain

Department of Integrative Medicine and Neurobiology, Institute of Acupuncture Research, School of Basic Medical Sciences, State Key Laboratory of Medical Neurobiology, Institutes of Brain Science, Fudan University, 138 Yi-Xue-Yuan Road, Shanghai 200032, China

Received 15 January 2014; Accepted 24 February 2014; Published 26 March 2014

Academic Editor: Adair Santos

Copyright © 2014 Qian Li 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.


Growing evidence indicates that chronic neuropathic pain is frequently accompanied by an array of psychiatric diseases, such as depression and anxiety. Electroacupuncture (EA), as one therapy of traditional Chinese medicine, has displayed potent antidepressant-like effects in numerous clinical studies. The present study was designed to examine the possible effects of EA on the depressive and anxiety disorders induced by neuropathic pain. A classic rat model of neuropathic pain was produced by chronic constriction injury (CCI) of the sciatic nerve. EA was performed on acupoints “Bai-Hui” (GV20) and unilateral “Yang-Ling-Quan” (GB34). The antidepressive and anxiolytic effects of EA treatment were analyzed using the forced swimming test (FST) and the elevated plus maze (EPM) test, respectively. CCI resulted in remarkable depression- and anxiety-like behaviors, whereas the chronic EA treatment significantly improved the behavioral deficits of CCI rats. Moreover, the phosphorylation level of the NMDA receptor type 1 (NR1) subunit was decreased in the hippocampus of CCI rats. Intriguingly, continuous EA treatment effectively blocked this decrease in the levels of pNR1. These results suggested that EA has antidepressive and anxiolytic effects on rats with neuropathic pain and that this might be associated with restoring the phosphorylation of NR1 in the hippocampus.