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Differential innervation of tissues located at traditional acupuncture points in the rat forehead and face

Wang, J;Cui, J;She, C;Xu, D;Zhang, Z;Wang, H;Bai, W;

To compare the neural pathways associated with the tissues located at different traditional acupuncture points in the rat forehead and face using the cholera toxin B subunit (CTB) neural tracing technique. After injection of CTB into the tissues at GB14, ST2 and ST6 in the rat, the neural labelling associated with each acupuncture point was revealed by fluorescent immunohistochemistry of the nervous system, including the trigeminal ganglion (TRG), cervical dorsal root ganglia (DRG), spinal cord and brain. The CTB labelling included sensory neurons and their transganglionic axonal terminals, as well as motor neurons. The labelled sensory neurons associated with GB14, ST2 and ST6 were distributed in both the TRG and cervical DRG, and their centrally projected axons terminated in an orderly fashion at their corresponding targets in the spinal trigeminal nucleus and cervical spinal dorsal horn. In addition, labelled motor neurons were observed in the facial motor nucleus, trigeminal motor nucleus and cervical spinal ventral horn, in which facial motor neurons projected to the tissues located at all three acupuncture points. Trigeminal motor neurons innervated both ST2 and ST6, while spinal motor neurons only correlated with ST6. These results indicate that the tissues located at each of these three traditional acupuncture points in the rat forehead and face has its own sensory and motor connection with the nervous system in a region-specific pattern through distinct neural pathways. Understanding the neuroanatomical characteristics of acupuncture points from the peripheral nervous system to the central nervous system should help inform acupuncture point selection according to the demands of the clinical situation. Article author(s) (or their employer(s) unless otherwise stated in the text of the article) 2018. All rights reserved. No commercial use is permitted unless otherwise expressly granted.