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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 7893710, 11 pages
Research Article

Electroacupuncture Ameliorates Learning and Memory and Improves Synaptic Plasticity via Activation of the PKA/CREB Signaling Pathway in Cerebral Hypoperfusion

1Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei Province, China
2Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Xiangyang Central Hospital, Hubei College of Arts and Science, Xiangyang, Hubei Province, China
3College of Health Science, Wuhan Institute of Physical Education, Wuhan, Hubei Province, China

Received 2 June 2016; Accepted 18 September 2016

Academic Editor: Yiu W. Kwan

Copyright © 2016 Cai-Xia Zheng 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.


Electroacupuncture (EA) has shown protective effects on cognitive decline. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms are ill-understood. The present study was undertaken to determine whether the cognitive function was ameliorated in cerebral hypoperfusion rats following EA and to investigate the role of PKA/CREB pathway. We used a rat 2-vessel occlusion (2VO) model and delivered EA at Baihui (GV20) and Dazhui (GV14) acupoints. Morris water maze (MWM) task, electrophysiological recording, Golgi silver stain, Nissl stain, Western blot, and real-time PCR were employed. EA significantly (1) ameliorated the spatial learning and memory deficits, (2) alleviated long-term potentiation (LTP) impairment and the reduction of dendritic spine density, (3) suppressed the decline of phospho-CREB (pCREB) protein, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) protein, and microRNA132 (miR132), and (4) reduced the increase of p250GAP protein of 2VO rats. These changes were partially blocked by a selective protein kinase A (PKA) inhibitor, N-[2-(p-bromocinnamylamino)ethyl]-5-isoquinoline-sulfonamide (H89), suggesting that the PKA/CREB pathway is potentially involved in the effects of EA. Moreover, any significant damage to the pyramidal cell layer of CA1 subregion was absent. These results demonstrated that EA could ameliorate learning and memory deficits and alleviate hippocampal synaptic plasticity impairment of cerebral hypoperfusion rats, potentially mediated by PKA/CREB signaling pathway.