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Brain Res Bull. 2004 Jan 15;62(4):327-34.

Non-opioid-dependent anti-inflammatory effects of low frequency electroacupuncture.

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School of Chinese Medicine, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong, PR China.


Low frequency electroacupuncture, which is commonly used in pain relief, is known to induce opioid-mediated analgesia. This study examined the contribution of the opioid system in mediating the anti-inflammatory effects of low frequency EA in a standard model of acute inflammation, the carrageenan-induced edema model. Carrageenan was injected in the hind paw of anesthetized rats and low frequency electroacupuncture was applied to acupoints equivalent to Zusanli (St 36) and Sanyinjiao (Sp 6) in humans just prior to the induction of inflammation in the ipsilateral leg. Induction of Fos protein, reflecting neuronal activation, was investigated in the spinal cord with immunohistochemistry. It was found that electroacupuncture strongly inhibited the carrageenan-induced edema by over 60%, and suppressed the associated Fos expression in the superficial laminae (I-II) of the ipsilateral dorsal horn by 50%. Neither the anti-edematous effect nor the suppression of Fos expression in the superficial spinal laminae was affected by intraperitoneal injection of the opioid antagonist naloxone. These results demonstrate that low frequency electroacupuncture is capable of inhibiting peripheral inflammation and the associated central neuronal activity via a non-opioid-dependent mechanism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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