Effects of electroacupuncture on pain sensation in a rat model of hyperalgesia with nicotine dependence

Shu Ju Wang, Yan Ping Zhang, Keith Candiotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tobacco smoking is considered to be one of the main risk factors in the development of chronic pain. Long-term chronic exposure to nicotine and other forms of tobacco have been shown to be associated with an increased incidence of pain. Studies have shown that acupuncture can help smokers to reduce their desire to smoke, reduce their withdrawal symptoms, and avoid a relapse after treatment. However, little has been reported about the effects of acupuncture on pain sensitivity caused by long-term smoking. Models of hyperalgesia were established in rats exposed to nicotine for 6 weeks. After 6 weeks of continuous nicotine exposure, electroacupuncture at bilateral acupoints Zusanli (ST36) and Taichong (LR3) was performed 20 minutes per day for 6 days at a continuous wave with a frequency of 2 Hz and a stimulus intensity of 1 mA. The results revealed that electroacupuncture treatment increased the mechanical response threshold of hind paw of nicotine-dependent rats with hyperalgesia and up-regulated the protein expression of pain-related factors μ-opioid receptor, β-endorphin and glutamic acid decarboxylase 65 in the spinal cord and midbrain periaqueductal gray and the protein expression of glutamic acid decarboxylase 67 in the spinal cord. These findings suggest that electroacupuncture treatment has positive analgesic effects on pain sensitivity caused by long-term chronic nicotine exposure. One possible mechanism for the improved analgesia is that electroacupuncture increases the expression of pain-related factors in the spinal cord and midbrain periaqueductal gray. This study was approved by Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) of the University of Miami (#18-167) on December 12, 2018.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)905-910
Number of pages6
JournalNeural Regeneration Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Chronic pain
  • Electroacupuncture
  • Glutamic acid decarboxylase 65
  • Glutamic acid decarboxylase 67
  • Hyperalgesia
  • Nicotine dependence
  • Pain sensation
  • Smoking
  • β-endorphin
  • μ-opioid receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Effects of electroacupuncture on pain sensation in a rat model of hyperalgesia with nicotine dependence'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this