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Modulation of Neurally Mediated Vasodepression and Bradycardia by Electroacupuncture through Opioids in Nucleus Tractus Solitarius.

  • Author(s): Tjen-A-Looi, Stephanie C
  • Fu, Liang-Wu
  • Guo, Zhi-Ling
  • Longhurst, John C
  • et al.

Stimulation of vagal afferent endings with intravenous phenylbiguanide (PBG) causes both bradycardia and vasodepression, simulating neurally mediated syncope. Activation of µ-opioid receptors in the nucleus tractus solitarius (NTS) increases blood pressure. Electroacupuncture (EA) stimulation of somatosensory nerves underneath acupoints P5-6, ST36-37, LI6-7 or G37-39 selectively but differentially modulates sympathoexcitatory responses. We therefore hypothesized that EA-stimulation at P5-6 or ST36-37, but not LI6-7 or G37-39 acupoints, inhibits the bradycardia and vasodepression through a µ-opioid receptor mechanism in the NTS. We observed that stimulation at acupoints P5-6 and ST36-37 overlying the deep somatosensory nerves and LI6-7 and G37-39 overlying cutaneous nerves differentially evoked NTS neural activity in anesthetized and ventilated animals. Thirty-min of EA-stimulation at P5-6 or ST36-37 reduced the depressor and bradycardia responses to PBG while EA at LI6-7 or G37-39 did not. Congruent with the hemodynamic responses, EA at P5-6 and ST36-37, but not at LI6-7 and G37-39, reduced vagally evoked activity of cardiovascular NTS cells. Finally, opioid receptor blockade in the NTS with naloxone or a specific μ-receptor antagonist reversed P5-6 EA-inhibition of the depressor, bradycardia and vagally evoked NTS activity. These data suggest that point specific EA stimulation inhibits PBG-induced vasodepression and bradycardia responses through a μ-opioid mechanism in the NTS.

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