Summary of experimental protocols. (A) Mouse schematic showing the location of the acupuncture points used in the study. GV20 stands for ‘Baihui’, which is located at the right midpoint of the parietal bone, GV14 stands for ‘Dazhui’, which is located on the posterior midline and in the depression below the spinous process of the seventh cervical vertebra. (B) The time line showing the chronological events of western blotting and ELISA studies. The brain tissue and blood were collected at 6, 12, 24 and 48 h after the end of EA treatment. (C) The time line showing the chronological events of the protective effects of EA on ischemic injury. The mice received once a day 20 min EA preconditioning for three days prior to the ischemic event, then focal cerebral ischemia was induced by photothrombotic cortical ischemia. Infarct volumes, neurobehavioral deficit and motor deficit were evaluated 24 h after focal cerebral ischemia.