The efficacy of electroacupuncture (EA) for treating patients with diarrhea-predominant IBS has been confirmed in the authors’ former research, but the regulatory mechanism of EA in IBS is still unknown. The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between the effect of EA on treating IBS rats and the activation and proliferation of mast cell (MC), the secretion of substance P(SP), and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP). The IBS rat model was set up with stress of binding limbs and colorectal distention. All rats were randomly assigned to four groups (Normal, Model, Tegaserod and EA). Hematoxylin and eosin staining has been used to observe the pathological change in the rats’ colonic mucosa and an AWR scoring system has been applied to evaluate improvement of visceral hypersensitivity in various methods of the different groups. Toluidine blue improved method (TBI) and immunohistochemistry have also been involved in observations of mucous mast cells in the colon, change of c-fos positive cells, and secretion of SP, SPR, VIP, VIPR in the local colon. Firstly, the threshold of visceral sensitivity in the rats model with IBS was remarkably reduced (P < 0.01). The MC count in colonic mucosa and c-fos positive cells count increased significantly (P < 0.01) with positive correlation within each. Secondly, EA on ST-25 and Tegaserod pouring into the stomach can inhibit the proliferation and activation of MC in the colon and regulate secretion of SP, SPR, VIP, VIPR (P < 0.01, P < 0.05), while the effect of EA is obviously superior to Tegaserod. We concluded, firstly, that the abnormal proliferation and activation of mucous mast cells in the colon, and oversecretion of neuropeptides such as SP, VIP and their receptors could be one of key mechanisms of etiology of IBS. Secondly, the inhibition of activation and proliferation and the secretion of SP, VIP could be major effects of EA when treating rats with IBS.
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This work was supported by Shanghai Leading Academic Discipline Project, Project No. T0302, National Basic Research Program of China (973 program) No. 2005 CB523306, and National Natural Science Foundation of China, No. 30371806. Many thanks go to the editor for his invaluable suggestions and advice during the final stages of the preparation of this paper.
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