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A series of studies have demonstrated acupoint sensitization, in which acupoints can be activated in combination with sensory hypersensitivity and functional plasticity during visceral disorders. However, the mechanisms of acupoint sensitization remain unclear. Neuroanatomy evidence showed nociceptors innervated in acupoints contribute to the mechanism of acupoint sensitization. Increasing studies suggested sympathetic nerve plays a key role in modulating sensory transmission by sprouting or coupling with sensory neuron/nociceptor in the peripheral, forming the functional structure of the sympathetic-sensory coupling. Notably, the sensory inputs of the disease-induced sensitized acupoint contribute to the homeostatic regulation and also involve in delivering therapeutic information under acupuncture, hence, the role of sprouted sympathetic in acupoint function should be given attention. We herein reviewed the current knowledge of sympathetic and its sprouting in pain modulation, then discussed and highlighted the potential value of sympathetic-sensory coupling in acupoint functional plasticity. © 2023 Cui et al.


Xiang Cui, Ziyi Zhang, Hanqing Xi, Kun Liu, Bing Zhu, Xinyan Gao. Sympathetic-Sensory Coupling as a Potential Mechanism for Acupoints Sensitization. Journal of pain research. 2023;16:2997-3004

PMID: 37667684

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