ACUPUNCTURE AND PURINERGIC SIGNALING Insertion and twisting of the needles employed in acupuncture mechanically deforms the skin, leading to the release of ATP by skin keratinocytes (1). ATP binds to specific receptors located on sensory nerve endings in the skin known as P2X3 and P2X2/3 (2). The signaling message is then relayed via dorsal root ganglia to the spinal cord (3) and subsequently through interneuronal pathways (4) to the brain stem (5) which contains motor neurons that control the functions of gut, lung, heart, arteries and reproductive organs, all major targets for acupuncture. Signals also travel to pain centers in the cortex, delivering a message to inhibit pain (6).
Credit: Lucy Reading-Ikkanda