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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2015 (2015), Article ID 453170, 11 pages
Research Article

Huperzine A Alleviates Mechanical Allodynia but Not Spontaneous Pain via Muscarinic Acetylcholine Receptors in Mice

1Department of Neurosurgery, First Affiliated Hospital, Medical College, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an, Shaanxi 710061, China
2Center for Mitochondrial Biology and Medicine, The Key Laboratory of Biomedical Information Engineering of Ministry of Education, School of Life Science and Technology and Frontier Institute of Science and Technology, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an 710049, China
3Institute of Neuroscience and Collaborative Innovation Center for Brain Science, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310058, China

Received 31 March 2015; Revised 13 September 2015; Accepted 14 September 2015

Academic Editor: James M. Wyss

Copyright © 2015 Zhen-Xing Zuo 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.


Chronic pain is a major health issue and most patients suffer from spontaneous pain. Previous studies suggest that Huperzine A (Hup A), an alkaloid isolated from the Chinese herb Huperzia serrata, is a potent analgesic with few side effects. However, whether it alleviates spontaneous pain is unclear. We evaluated the effects of Hup A on spontaneous pain in mice using the conditioned place preference (CPP) behavioral assay and found that application of Hup A attenuated the mechanical allodynia induced by peripheral nerve injury or inflammation. This effect was blocked by atropine. However, clonidine but not Hup A induced preference for the drug-paired chamber in CPP. The same effects occurred when Hup A was infused into the anterior cingulate cortex. Furthermore, ambenonium chloride, a competitive inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase, also increased the paw-withdrawal threshold but failed to induce place preference in CPP. Therefore, our data suggest that acetylcholinesterase in both the peripheral and central nervous systems is involved in the regulation of mechanical allodynia but not the spontaneous pain.