Heroin abuse can damage many brain areas, including the pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus of the midbrain, the ventral tegmental area, and nucleus accumbens.
Persistent use of heroin induced irreversible damage to the nervous system.
To verify the relationship between acupuncture, neurotrophic factor expression and brain cell structural changes, a research team from Anhui University of Chinese Medicine in China established a rat model of heroin relapse using intramuscular injection of increasing amounts of heroin.
During the detoxification period, rat models received acupuncture at Baihui (DU20) and Dazhui (DU14).
After acupuncture at Baihui (DU20) and Dazhui (DU14), clear nuclear membranes, abundant uniform ribosomes, a few vacuolar mitochondria, and lightly expanded rough endoplasmic reticulum were observable in at Baihui (DU20) and Dazhui (DU14). Arrows show nuclear membranes and mitochondria.
Credit: Neural Regeneration Research
Rongjun Zhang and co-workers from this team found that the structure of the ventral tegmental area in heroin relapse rats gradually became normalized after acupuncture treatment, and the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor also increased in the ventral tegmental area following acupuncture.
These results, published in Neural Regeneration Research (Vol. 9, No. 3, 2014), suggested that acupuncture at Baihui and Dazhui protected brain neurons against injury in rats with heroin relapse by promoting brain-derived neurotrophic factor and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor expression.