Background In early spinal cord injury (SCI), glutamate receptors, including N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors (NMDARs), are over-stimulated by excessively released glutamate. The enhanced activity of NMDARs may cause cell death by overloading calcium (Ca2 +) into cells based on their high permeability to Ca2 +. Studies in SCI animals have shown that treatment with electro-acupuncture (EA) is able to reduce cell death and to improve functional recovery. One possible mechanism of this neuroprotective effect is that EA has regulatory effect on NMDARs. Aims To test whether EA could protect the spinal cord after SCI by decreasing the expression levels of NR1 and NR2A. Main methods We conducted EA treatment on a rat SCI model produced with a New York University (NYU) Impactor and measured hindlimb locomotor function by Basso, Beattie and Bresnahan Locomotor Rating Scale (BBB Scale). The expression of NR1 and NR2, the subunits of NMDARs, in the injured spinal cord was measured by Immunofluorescence stainings, western blot and real-time quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). Key finding Our results showed that two days after the SCI the expression of NR1 and NR2 were dramatically enhanced at both protein and mNRA levels, which were significantly reduced by EA treatment at two specific acupoints, Dazhui (DU14) and Mingmen (DU4). Significance EA is a potential therapeutic method for treating early SCI in human.
- NMDA receptors
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)