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The Effects of Electroacupuncture in a Rat Model of Cerebral Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury Following Middle Cerebral Artery Occlusion Involves MicroRNA-223 and the PTEN Signaling Pathway

Rong Sha, Xiaohua Han, Caixia Zheng, Jiaojiao Peng, Li Wang, Luting Chen, Xiaolin Huang

Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei, China (mainland)

Med Sci Monit 2019; 25:10077-10088

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.919611

Available online:

Published: 2019-12-28


BACKGROUND: In China, electroacupuncture (EA) is used to treat the symptoms of ischemic stroke. However, the mechanisms involved in the effects of EA in cerebral ischemia remain to be investigated. This study aimed to investigate the molecular mechanism underlying the effects of EA in a rat model of cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury (CIRI) induced by middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO).
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Seventy-five male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into five groups: the sham group (with sham surgery), the model group (the MCAO model), the EA group (treated with EA), the EA control group, and the EA+antagomir-223-3p group. Rats in the model of CIRI underwent MCAO for 90 minutes. EA was performed on the second postoperative day and was performed at the Waiguan (TE5) and Zusanli (ST36) acupoints. The rat brains were evaluated for structural and molecular markers.
RESULTS: EA treatment significantly upregulated the expression of microRNA-223 (miR-223), NESTIN, and NOTCH1, and downregulated the expression of PTEN in the subventricular zone (SVZ) and hippocampus. The luciferase reporter assay supported that PTEN was a direct target of miR-223, and antagomiR-223-3p reversed the effects of EA and reduced the increase in NESTIN and inhibition of PTEN expression associated with EA treatment. There was a negative correlation between PTEN expression and the number of neural stem cells (NSCs).
CONCLUSIONS: In a rat model of CIRI following MCAO, EA activated the NOTCH pathway, promoted the expression of miR-223, increased the number of NSCs, and reduced the expression of PTEN.

Keywords: Electroacupuncture, Hypoxia-Ischemia, Brain, neural stem cells, PTEN Phosphohydrolase, Receptors, Notch



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