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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 9068257, 8 pages
Research Article

Effects of Electroacupuncture on Pain Threshold of Laboring Rats and the Expression of Norepinephrine Transporter and α2 Adrenergic Receptor in the Central Nervous System

1Youjiang Medical University for Nationalities, Key Lab of Western Guangxi High Incident Disease, Baise, Guangxi 533000, China
2Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics, The First Affiliated Hospital of Guangxi University of Chinese Medicine, Nanning, Guangxi 530023, China
3Chelsea & Westminster Hospital, Imperial College London, London SW10 9NH, UK

Received 27 January 2016; Accepted 9 June 2016

Academic Editor: Jeng-Ren Duann

Copyright © 2016 Qianli Tang 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.


To observe the effects of electroacupuncture on pain threshold of laboring rats and the expression of norepinephrine transporter and α2 adrenergic receptor in the central nervous system to determine the mechanism of the analgesic effect of labor. 120 pregnant rats were divided into 6 groups: a control group, 4 electroacupuncture groups, and a meperidine group. After interventions, the warm water tail-flick test was used to observe pain threshold. NE levels in serum, NET, and α2AR mRNA and protein expression levels in the central nervous system were measured. No difference in pain threshold was observed between the 6 groups before intervention. After intervention, increased pain thresholds were observed in all groups except the control group with a higher threshold seen in the electroacupuncture groups. Serum NE levels decreased in the electroacupuncture and MP groups. Increases in NET and α2AR expression in the cerebral cortex and decreases in enlarged segments of the spinal cord were seen. Acupuncture increases uptake of NE via cerebral NET and decreases its uptake by spinal NET. The levels of α2AR are also increased and decreased, respectively, in both tissues. This results in a decrease in systemic NE levels and may be the mechanism for its analgesic effects.