Mast cell-nerve cell interaction at acupoint: modeling mechanotransduction pathway induced by acupuncture.
Mast cells are found abundant at sites of acupoints. Nerve cells share perivascular localization with mast cells. Acupuncture (mechanical stimuli) can activate mast cells to release adenosine triphosphate (ATP) which can activate nerve cells and modulates pain-processing pathways in response to acupuncture. In this paper, a mathematical model was constructed for describing intracellular Ca(2+) signal and ATP release in a coupled mast cell and nerve cell system induced by mechanical stimuli. The results showed mechanical stimuli lead to a intracellular Ca(2+) rise in the mast cell and ATP release, ATP diffuses in the extracellular space (ECS) and activates the nearby nerve cells, then induces electrical current in the nerve cell which spreads in the neural network. This study may facilitate our understanding of the mechanotransduction process induced by acupuncture and provide a methodology for quantitatively analyzing acupuncture treatment.