Background: The use of acupuncture in the treatment of pain conditions has been extensively investigated. However, the influence of dietary ingredients on acupuncture-induced analgesia (AA) remains unexplored. Recently, the role of adenosine receptors in AA has been shown, and caffeine, one of the world's most commonly consumed dietary ingredients, is an antagonist of these receptors. In this study, the postincisional pain model was used to investigate caffeine's influence on AA.
Method: Mice submitted to plantar incision surgery were treated with acupuncture needling after administration of acute or chronic caffeine. Acupuncture needling was performed using two different types of stimuli, manual acupuncture and electroacupuncture bilaterally in the acupoint SP6.
Results: We found that acute preadministration of caffeine (10 mg/kg, i.p.) completely reversed AA in both types of acupuncture. In the chronic preadministration, we used two doses that mimicked the average daily caffeine consumption in Western countries and China. Interestingly, the Western dose of caffeine (70 mg/kg/day) administered during 8 days in the drinking water reversed AA and the Chinese dose (4 mg/kg/day) administered during the same period did not.
Conclusions: These results indicate that the use of caffeine can inhibit the analgesic effect of different forms of acupuncture. In addition, our findings suggest that doses of caffeine relevant to dietary human intake levels could be a confounding factor in the context of acupuncture research.