BMC complementary and alternative medicine

Electroacupuncture at different frequencies (5Hz and 25Hz) ameliorates cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury in rats: possible involvement of p38 MAPK-mediated anti-apoptotic signaling pathways.

PMID 26187498


This study aimed to determine the effects of electroacupuncture stimulation at the Baihui (GV20) and Fengfu (GV16) acupoints, at frequencies of 5Hz (EA-5Hz) and 25Hz (EA-25Hz), 7 days after cerebral ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury, and to evaluate the possible signaling mechanisms involved in mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathways. Rats were subjected to 30xa0min of middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAo) followed by 7 days of reperfusion. EA-5Hz or EA-25Hz was applied immediately after MCAo and then once daily for 7 consecutive days. Results indicated that EA-5Hz and EA-25Hz both markedly attenuated cerebral infarction and neurological deficits. EA-5Hz and EA-25Hz both markedly downregulated cytosolic glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), mitochondrial Bax, mitochondrial and cytosolic second mitochondrial-derived activator of caspase/direct inhibitor of apoptosis protein-binding protein with low isoelectric point (Smac/DIABLO), and cytosolic cleaved caspase-3 expression, and effectively restored cytosolic phospho-p38 MAPK (p-p38 MAPK), cytosolic cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB), mitochondrial Bcl-xL, and cytosolic X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) expression, in the ischemic cortical penumbra 7 days after reperfusion. Both EA-5Hz and EA-25Hz also significantly increased the ratios of mitochondrial Bcl-xL/Bax and Bcl-2/Bax, respectively. Both EA-5Hz and EA-25Hz effectively downregulate reactive astrocytosis to provide neuroprotection against cerebral infarction, most likely by activating the p38 MAPK/CREB signaling pathway. The modulating effects of EA-5Hz and EA-25Hz on Bax-mediated apoptosis are possibly due to the activation of p38 MAPK/CREB/Bcl-xL and p38 MAPK/CREB/Bcl-2 signaling pathways, respectively, and eventually contribute to the prevention of Smac/DIABLO translocation and subsequent restoration of XIAP-mediated suppression of caspase-3 in the cortical periinfarct area 7 days after reperfusion.