Objective: To investigate the therapeutic effect of acupoint injection of bee venom on collagen-induced arthritis (CIA) in rats and explore the mechanism of bee venom therapy in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
Methods: Fifteen male Wistar rats were randomly divided into bee venom treatment group (BV group), CIA model group, and control group. In the former two groups, CIA was induced by injections of collagen II+IFA (0.2 mL) via the tail vein, and in the control group, normal saline was injected instead. The rats in BV group received daily injection of 0.1 mL (3 mg/mL) bee venom for 7 consecutive days. All the rats were assessed for paw thickness and arthritis index from days 14 to 21, and the pain threshold was determined on day 21. The expressions of TRPV1 and TrkA in the dorsal root ganglion at the level of L4-6 were detected using immunohistochemistry and Western blotting, respectively.
Results: The rats in CIA model group started to show paw swelling on day 10, and by day 14, all the rats in this group showed typical signs of CIA. In BV group, the rats receiving been venom therapy for 7 days showed a significantly smaller paw thickness and a low arthritis index than those in the model group. The pain threshold was the highest in the control group and the lowest in the model group. TRPV1-positive cells and TrkA expression in the dorsal root ganglion was significantly reduced in BV group as compared with that in the model group.
Conclusion: s Injection of bee venom can decrease expression of TRPV1 and TrkA in the dorsal root ganglion to produce anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, suggesting the potential value of bee venom in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.