The administration of diluted bee venom (DBV) into an acupuncture point has been utilized traditionally in Eastern medicine to treat chronic pain. We demonstrated previously that DBV has a potent anti-nociceptive efficacy in several rodent pain models. The present study was designed to examine the potential anti-nociceptive effect of repetitive DBV treatment in the development of below-level neuropathic pain in spinal cord injury (SCI) rats. DBV was applied into the Joksamli acupoint during the induction and maintenance phase following thoracic 13 (T13) spinal hemisection. We examined the effect of repetitive DBV stimulation on SCI-induced bilateral pain behaviors, glia expression and motor function recovery. Repetitive DBV stimulation during the induction period, but not the maintenance, suppressed pain behavior in the ipsilateral hind paw. Moreover, SCI-induced increase in spinal glia expression was also suppressed by repetitive DBV treatment in the ipsilateral dorsal spinal cord. Finally, DBV injection facilitated motor function recovery as indicated by the Basso-Beattie-Bresnahan rating score. These results indicate that the repetitive application of DBV during the induction phase not only decreased neuropathic pain behavior and glia expression, but also enhanced locomotor functional recovery after SCI. This study suggests that DBV acupuncture can be a potential clinical therapy for SCI management.
Keywords: acupuncture; bee venom; glia; mechanical allodynia; spinal cord injury; thermal hyperalgesia.