Paraventricular hypothalamus is demonstrated to regulate stress, feeding behaviors, and other related homeostatic processes. However, no direct evidence has been investigated for the role of pentricular hypothalamus in swallowing function. Acupuncture therapy at Lianquan (CV 23) acupoint has been reported to improve the swallowing function in clinical trials, but its underlying mechanism still needs to be uncovered. Thus, we aimed to explore whether pentricular hypothalamus involved the acupuncture mediated regulating swallowing function.
Chemogenetics, electromyography (EMG) recording, and immunofluorescence staining methods were combined to demonstrate that neurons in paraventricular hypothalamus could be activated by electroacupuncture stimulation at Lianquan (CV 23), and this neuronal cluster was represented as excitatory neurons. Furthermore, we mapped both the inputs and outputs of paraventricular hypothalamus neurons using viral tracing.
The neurons in pentricular hypothalamus projected with the brain regions, including parabrachial nucleus (PBN) and the solitary tract nucleus (NTS), which both participated in the swallowing process. The electroacupuncture function regulating the swallowing was attenuated after inhibiting the neurons in paraventricular hypothalamusin the post stroke dysphagia.
In conclusion, this study suggested that electroacupuncture at Lianquan (CV23) could regulate swallowing function involving the excitatory neurons in paraventricular hypothalamus.