Electroacupuncture improves gait locomotion, H-reflex and ventral root potentials of spinal compression injured rats.
Rodríguez Torres, Erika Elizabeth
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This study explored the effect of electroacupuncture stimulation (EA) on alterations in the Hoffman reflex (H-reflex) response and gait locomotion provoked by spinal cord injury (SCI) in the rat. A compression lesion of the spinal cord was evoked by insufflating a Fogarty balloon located in the epidural space at the T8?9 spinal level of adult Wistar male rats (200?250 gr; n = 60). In different groups of SCI rats, EA (frequencies: 2, 50 and 100 Hz) was applied simultaneously to Huantiao (GB30), Yinmen (BL37), Jizhong (GV6) and Zhiyang (GV9) acupoints from the third post-injury day until the experimental session. At 1, 2, 3 and 4 post-injury weeks, the BBB scores of the SCI group of rats treated with EA at 50 Hz showed a gradual but greater enhancement of locomotor activity than the other groups of rats. Unrestrained gait kinematic analysis of SCI rats treated with EA?50 Hz stimulation showed a significant improvement in stride duration, length and speed (p < 0.05), whereas a discrete recovery of gait locomotion was observed in the other groups of animals. After four post-injury weeks, the H-reflex amplitude and H-reflex/M wave amplitude ratio obtained in SCI rats had a noticeable enhancement (217%) compared to sham rats (n = 10). Meanwhile, SCI rats treated with EA at 50 Hz manifested a decreased facilitation of the H-reflex amplitude and H/M amplitude ratio (154%) and a reduced frequency-dependent amplitude depression of the H-reflex (66%). In addition, 50 Hz-EA treatment induced a recovery of the presynaptic depression of the Gs-VRP evoked by PBSt conditioning stimulation in the SCI rat (63.2 ± 8.1%; n = 9). In concordance with the latter, it could be suggested that 50 Hz-EA stimulation reduced the hyper-excitability of motoneurons and provokes a partial improvement of the locomotive performance and H reflex responses by a possible recovery of presynaptic mechanisms in the spinal cord of experimentally injured rats.