A histological study of the effects of electro-acupuncture on intervertebral disc with simulated degeneration using an in vivo rat tail model

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A histological study of the effects of electro-acupuncture on intervertebral disc with simulated degeneration using an in vivo rat tail model


Author: Leung, Sha-sha
Title: A histological study of the effects of electro-acupuncture on intervertebral disc with simulated degeneration using an in vivo rat tail model
Degree: M.Sc.
Year: 2008
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations.
Intervertebral disk -- Diseases -- Treatment.
Diseases -- Animal models.
Department: School of Nursing
Pages: v, 84 leaves : ill. (chiefly col.) ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2166845
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/2089
Abstract: Intervertebral disc is a complex structure that has been the focus in clinical practice. The organization and composition of the macromolecules of the disc ultimately determine its mechanical behavior. When disc degeneration occurs, it results in alterations of matrix composition and decreased cellularity. This is a chronic process that can become manifest in clinical disorders such as low back pain. Unfortunately, a clear understanding of the biological and clinical factors leading to degenerative disc disease remains elusive, which complicates the management of patients who experience this condition. Electro-acupuncture (EA), as one of the treatments, has been demonstrated clinically to be effective for relieving pain. However, the effects of EA on degenerated disc have not yet been investigated. Rat-tail model has been commonly used for intervertebral disc studies because rat-tail consists of many intervertebral discs. This can facilitate investigators to apply a controllable and exact loading to the rat caudal disc, so that they can examine the biological changes of the disc. Therefore, a histological study was conducted to investigate the effects of EA on intervertebral disc with simulated degeneration using the rat-tail model. Sixty-four adult Sprague-Dawley rats were used in this study. The rats were randomly divided into eight groups (A to H). Group A was the normal control without doing anything to provide the normal intervertebral disc as reference. Groups B, C and D were the sham control groups. The rats of these three groups had pin-insertion only without any application of compressive loading. They were used as controls for studying the effect of pin-insertion at day 4, 18 and 39, respectively. Groups E and F were the compression groups. The rats of these two groups had pin-insertion and 2-week static compression of 11N (24 hours). By comparing Groups D and E, the suitability of applying static compression of 11N for simulating degenerative-like change in the disc was confirmed. Group E was used to demonstrate the immediate effect after loading on day 18 and group F was used to study the effect of loading after 3-week resting period following compression. By comparing Groups E and F, the long-term effects of the simulated degenerative-like change in the disc were confirmed and it was found that the changes could not be recovered by itself. Groups G and H were treated by electro-acupuncture with 2 Hz and 100 Hz respectively. By comparing Groups E and G, the effects of electro-acupuncture on degeneration simulated intereertebral disc were studied. By comparing Groups G and H, the effects of stimulation frequency on the disc were studied. After all the rats were sacrificed, the caudal 6-7, 8-9, 10-11 intervertebral discs were harvested. The caudal 8-9 was the target disc while the 6-7 and 10-11 discs were used as controls. The discs were treated by the following procedures for histological analyses: (1) fixation (2) decalcification (3) tissue processing (4) tissue embedding (5) tissue sectioning (6) staining. Histological analyses including qualitative microscopic examination and quantitative measurements were conducted using an image analyzing system. It was found that electro-acupuncture could stimulate cell production and it demonstrated potential for maintaining and repairing the extracellular matrix of the disc. However, if the frequency used in electro-acupuncture was not suitable (such as the high frequency used in the current study), it could accelerate intervertebral disc degeneration and reduce the amount of the cells. This demonstrated that the effects induced by electro-acupuncture on intervertebral disc were frequency dependent.

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