Synergistic anti-hyperalgesia of electroacupuncture and low dose of celecoxib in monoarthritic rats: involvement of the cyclooxygenase activity in the spinal cord

Wen-Li Mi, Qi-Liang Mao-Ying, Qiong Liu, Xiao-Wei Wang, Yan-Qing Wang, Gen-Cheng Wu
Brain Research Bulletin 2008 September 30, 77 (2): 98-104
Electroacupuncture (EA) can effectively control the exaggerated pain in humans with inflammatory disease and animals with experimental inflammatory pain. However, there have been few investigations on the effect of co-administration of EA and analgesics and the underlying synergistic mechanism. Using behavioral test, RT-PCR analysis, enzyme immunoassay (EIA) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), the present study demonstrated that (1) Unilateral intra-articular injection of complete Freund's adjuvant (CFA) produced a constant hyperalgesia and an up-regulation of the prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2)) level as well as the tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interleukin (IL)-1beta, and IL-6 levels in the spinal cord; (2) Celecoxib, a selective inhibitor of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), at a dose of 2, 10, and 20 mg/kg (twice daily, p.o.), presented a dose-dependent anti-hyperalgesic effect; (3) Repeated EA stimulation of ipsilateral 'Huan-Tiao' (GB30) and 'Yang-Ling-Quan' (GB34) acupoints significantly suppressed CFA-induced hyperalgesia, and markedly inhibited the CFA-induced increase of the level of PGE(2) as well as IL-1beta, IL-6, and TNF-alpha in the spinal cord; (4) EA combined with low dose of celecoxib (2 mg/kg, twice daily, p.o.) greatly enhanced the anti-hyperalgesic effects of EA, with a synergistic reversing effect on CFA-induced up-regulation of spinal PGE(2), but not on the IL-1beta, IL-6, or TNF-alpha. These data indicated that repeated EA combined with low dose of celecoxib produced synergistic anti-hyperalgesic effect in the CFA-induced monoarthritic rats, which could be made possible by regulating the activity of spinal COX, hence the spinal PGE(2) level. Thus, this combination may provide an effective strategy for pain management.

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