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    Neural systems play important roles in the functions of acupuncture. But the unclear structure and mechanism of acupoints hinder acupuncture standardization and cause the acupuncture effects to be varying or even paradoxical. It has been broadly assumed that the efficacy of acupuncture depends on the biological signals triggered at acupoints and passed up along neural systems. However, as the first station to transmit such signals, the characters of the dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons innervating acupoints are still not well elucidated. We adopted Zusanli (ST36) as a representative acupoint and found most DRG neurons innervating ST36 acupoint are middle-size neurons with a single spike firing pattern. This suggests that proprioceptive neurons take on greater possibility than small size nociceptive neurons do to mediate the acupuncture signals. Moreover, we found that adenosine injected into ST36 acupoints could dose- and acupoint-dependently mimic the analgesic effect of acupuncture. However, adenosine could not elicit action potentials in the acutely isolated ST36 DRG neurons, but it inhibited ID currents and increased the areas of overshoots. Further, we found that 4 types of adenosine receptors were all expressed by ST36 DRG neurons, and A1, A2b, and A3 receptors were the principal reactors to adenosine. PERSPECTIVE: This study provides the major characteristics of ST36 DRG neurons, which will help to analyze the neural pathway of acupuncture signals. At the same time, these findings could provide a new possible therapy for pain relief, such as injecting adenosine or corresponding agonists into acupoints. Copyright © 2022 United States Association for the Study of Pain, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


    Wanrong Li, Danqing Dai, Aiwen Chen, Xiao-Fei Gao, Lize Xiong. Characteristics of Zusanli Dorsal Root Ganglion Neurons in Rats and Their Receptor Mechanisms in Response to Adenosine. The journal of pain. 2022 Sep;23(9):1564-1580

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    PMID: 35472520

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