OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to determine: 1) The spatial pattern of c-fos gene expression in rat hypothalamic neurons after exposure to NMS and 2) The expression of c-fos gene after combined exposure to NMS and EHF irradiation of the rat skin.
METHODS: The experiments were performed on 28 male adult Sprague-Dawley rats. After rats were subjected to noxious mechanical stimulation (NMS) or its combination with EHF irradiation of the skin, cells in various hypothalamic structures were analyzed to determine theirs effects on c-fos gene expression, an accepted marker of the activation of neurons. C-Fos-like protein was revealed by an indirect immunoperoxidase method.
RESULTS: This study revealed that NMS stimulates c-fos gene expression in the anterior hypothalamic nucleus (AHN), dorsomedial hypothalamic nucleus (DMH), ventromedial hypothalamic nucleus (VMH), and lateral hypothalamic area (LHA) by 157, 101, 199 and 115% respectively compared to control animals. Combined exposure to NMS and EHF irradiation directed at the skin in the region of the St36 acupuncture point projection site (left side) results in a decrease of the number of neurons that are activated in the AHN, DMH, VMH, and LHA by 33.6, 13.2, 31.0 and 32.9% respectively compared to the number of neurons activated by exposure to NMS by itself. EHF exposure of the skin of rats not subjected to NMS differentially effects the number of c-Fos positive cells expressed in hypothalamic structures: a decrease of 39.7% was observed in the number of activated neurons in the central part of LHA (level 28) compared to sham-irradiated animals, while an increase of 80.95% was noted in the number of c-Fos positive cells in the DMH compared to sham-irradiated animals.
CONCLUSIONS: The spatial pattern and degree of activation of c-fos gene expression has been shown in cells of the hypothalamus of rats after exposure to NMS by itself and after NMS combined with EHF irradiation of the skin. The "stress" reaction of cells in specific hypothalamic structures has been shown to be decreased after EHF exposure of the skin.