Electroacupuncture analgesia is associated with increased serum brain-derived neuropathic factor in chronic tension-type headache

Primary tabs

SCIENCE
Electroacupuncture analgesia is associated with increased serum brain-derived neuropathic factor in chronic tension-type headache
Key Take-Away: 

Electroacupuncture (EA) has been used in traditional Chinese medicine and its advantages in treatment of chronic tension type headache (CTTH) have been well-recognized. In this particular study, the investigators have successfully revealed the mechanism of pain modulation associated with EA in patients with CTTH. 

Chronic tension-type headache (CTTH) is characterized by almost daily headaches and central sensitization, for which electro acupuncture (EA) might be effective. The central nervous system (CNS) plasticity can be tracked in serum using the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neuroplasticity mediator. Thus, we tested the hypothesis that EA analgesia in CTTH is related to neuroplasticity indexed by serum BDNF.

ABSTRACT: 
Background: 

Chronic tension-type headache (CTTH) is characterized by almost daily headaches and central sensitization, for which electroacupuncture (EA) might be effective.

The central nervous system (CNS) plasticity can be tracked in serum using the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neuroplasticity mediator. Thus, we tested the hypothesis that EA analgesia in CTTH is related to neuroplasticity indexed by serum BDNF.

Methods: 

We enrolled females aged 18–60 years with CTTH in a randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled crossover trial, comparing ten EA sessions applied for 30 minutes (2–10 Hz, intensity by tolerance) in cervical areas twice per week vs. a sham intervention.

Treatment periods were separated by two washout weeks. Pain on the 10-cm visual analog scale (VAS) and serum BDNF were assessed as primary outcomes.

Results: 

Thirty-four subjects underwent randomization, and twenty-nine completed the protocol.

EA was superior to sham to alleviate pain (VAS scores 2.38 ± 1.77 and 3.02 ± 2.49, respectively, P = 0.005). The VAS scores differed according to the intervention sequence, demonstrating a carryover effect (P < 0.05). Using multiple regression, serum BDNF was adjusted for the Hamilton depression rating scale (HDRS) and the VAS scores (r-squared = 0.07, standard β coefficients = −0.2 and −0.14, respectively, P < 0.001). At the end of the first intervention period, the adjusted BDNF was higher in the EA phase (29.31 ± 3.24, 27.53 ± 2.94 ng/mL, Cohen’s d = 0.55).

Conclusion: 

EA analgesia is related to neuroplasticity indexed by the adjusted BDNF and EA modulation of pain and BDNF occurred according to the CNS situation at the moment of its administration, as it was related to depression and the timing of its administration.

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015; 15:144

Comments

Log in or register to post comments