2000 Volume 50 Issue 5 Pages 495-507
The effect of acupuncture-like stimulation of various areas (cheek, forepaw, upper arm, chest, back, lower leg, hindpaw, perineum) on cortical cerebral blood flow (CBF) was examined in anesthetized rats. An acupuncture needle (diameter, 340 μm) was inserted into the skin and underlying muscles at a depth of about 5 mm and twisted to the right and left once a second for 1 min. CBF of the cortex was measured using a laser Doppler flowmeter. Stimulation of the cheek, forepaw, upper arm and hindpaw produced significant increases in CBF, but stimulation of the chest, back, lower leg and perineum did not produce significant responses. Stimulation of the cheek, forepaw, and hindpaw produced an increase in mean arterial pressure (MAP), while stimulation of the back produced a decrease in MAP. Stimulation of the upper arm, chest, lower leg and perineum did not produce a significant MAP response. After spinal transection at the 1st to 2nd thoracic level, the blood pressure response to stimulation of the cheek and forepaw was suppressed, whereas an increase in CBF still took place. The increase in CBF induced by forepaw stimulation was abolished by severance of the somatic nerves at the brachial plexus. Forepaw stimulation enhanced the activity of the radial, ulnar and median nerves. Furthermore, in the present study, passing of an electric current through acupuncture needles showed that excitation of group III (Aδ) and group IV (C) afferent fibers in the somatic nerve was capable of producing an increase in CBF, whereas excitation of group I (Aα) and group II (Aβ) fibers was ineffective. The increase in CBF induced by forepaw stimulation was almost abolished by intravenous administration of muscarinic and nicotinic cholinergic blocking agents (atropine 5 mg/kg and mecamylamine 20 mg/kg), and by bilateral lesions in the nucleus basalis of Meynert. Acupuncture-like stimulation of a forepaw increased acetylcholine release in the cerebral cortex. We concluded that the increase in CBF, independent of systemic blood pressure, elicited by acupuncture stimulation is a reflex response in which the afferent nerve pathway is composed of somatic group III and IV afferent nerves, and efferent nerve pathway includes intrinsic cholinergic vasodilators originating in the nucleus basalis of Meynert. acupuncture, neural regulation of cerebral blood flow, intracranial cholinergic vasodilative system, nucleus basalis of Meynert, extracellular acetylcholine.