Electroacupuncture improves neurogenic bladder dysfunction through activation of NGF/TrkA signaling in a rat model.

To observe the effect of electroacupuncture on the morphological change of the bladder tissue and the protein expression levels of NGF, TrkA, p-TrkA, AKT, and p-AKT in the bladder tissue of rats with neurogenic bladder after suprasacral spinal cord injury and to preliminarily explore its partial mechanism of action.

Eighty female Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into blank group, model group, electroacupuncture group, model/siNGF group, and electroacupuncture/siNGF group according to random number table method with 16 rats in each group. Eighty Neurogenic bladder models after suprasacral spinal cord injury were established by adopting a modified spinal cord transection method. Electroacupuncture intervention was conducted on the 19th day after modeling. The bladder function was detected by bladder weight, urine output, serum BUN, and urine protein. After treatment for 7 consecutive days, the rats were killed and the bladder tissues were removed rapidly for microscopic observation of morphological change after hematoxylin and eosin stain and for determination of the protein expression levels of NGF, TrkA, p-TrkA, AKT, and p-AKT via Western blot analysis. The transcription of NGF was measured by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction.

After treatment, compared with the blank group, the bladder weight of model and electroacupuncture groups were significantly increased (P < 0.05). Compared with the model group, the bladder weight of the electroacupuncture group was decreased (P > 0.05). Compared with the blank group, the urine output of the model group was increased ( P < 0.05). Compared with the blank group, the urine output of the electroacupuncture group was increased ( P > 0.05). Compared with the blank group, the serum BUN of the model group was increased ( P < 0.05). Compared with the blank group, the serum BUN of the electroacupuncture group was increased ( P > 0.05). Compared with the blank group, the urine protein of the model group was increased ( P < 0.05). Compared with the blank group, the urine protein of the electroacupuncture group was increased ( P > 0.05). The expression of NGF, p-TrkA, and p-AKT in the model and electroacupuncture groups was obviously higher than that in the blank group ( P < 0.05). The expression of NGF, p-TrkA, and p-AKT in the electroacupuncture group was higher than that in the model group. The expression of TrkA and AKT were unchanged in blank, model, and electroacupuncture groups ( P > 0.05). After tail vein injection with siNGF lentivirus, the expression of NGF in the model/siNGF group and electroacupuncture/siNGF group was significantly decreased ( P < 0.05). And the protein level of p-AKT and p-TrkA was significantly lower than that of the model and electroacupuncture groups ( P < 0.05).

Sacral electroacupuncture therapy can improve the expression of both NGF/TrkA signaling and AKT signaling in the local nerve of the damaged spinal cord, inhibit apoptosis of the damaged spinal cord, protect nerve cells, and promote the recovery of the damaged nerve. At the same time, electroacupuncture can promote the coordination of micturition reflex and improve neurogenic bladder function after the spinal cord injury.

Journal of cellular biochemistry. 2018 Dec 28 [Epub ahead of print]

Tong Zhang, Jiafeng Yu, Zongqiang Huang, Gang Wang, Runhe Zhang

Department of Rehabilitation, First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, China.

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