Involvement of central opioidergic and nonopioidergic neuroendocrine systems in the suppressive effect of acupuncture on delayed type hypersensitivity in mice

Int J Immunopharmacol. 1993 May;15(4):501-8. doi: 10.1016/0192-0561(93)90064-6.


The effect of a single treatment of electroacupuncture (Acu) at early or late stages of the efferent phase on 2, 4, 6-trinitrochlorobenzene (TNCB)-induced delayed type hypersensitivity (DTH) was studied in intact and hypophysectomized (HPX) mice. Acu (2.5 Hz, 15 min) applied to the acu-point equivalent to GV4 at 0, 3, 18 or 21 h after TNCB challenge induced significant suppression (45-73%) of the maximal extent of ear swelling at 24 h after TNCB challenge. An immunosuppressive and antiinflammatory drug, prednisolone 10 mg/kg i.p., also suppressed the DTH to the same extent. Pretreatment with intracisternal injection of naloxone hydrochloride (2 micrograms) significantly blocked the Acu-evoked DTH suppression when Acu treatment was done at 0 or 3 h. On the contrary, naloxone did not block the effect of Acu treatment given at 21 h. In order to examine the potential involvement of the pituitary in the suppression of DTH by Acu, the DTH reaction was examined in HPX mice. Acu failed to produce suppressive response in the HPX mice unless given at 0 h. These findings indicate that Acu treatment at acu-point GV4 during the efferent phase of induced DTH can suppress the DTH through central opioidergic or nonopioidergic systems. The pituitary is apparently pivotal in this immunosuppression and it is suggested that the DTH suppression by Acu may be mediated via activation of the neuroendocrine system.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electroacupuncture*
  • Endorphins / physiology*
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / immunology
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / physiopathology
  • Hypersensitivity, Delayed / therapy*
  • Hypophysectomy
  • Immune Tolerance / drug effects
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Naloxone / pharmacology
  • Neuroimmunomodulation / physiology*
  • Neurosecretory Systems / immunology
  • Neurosecretory Systems / physiopathology
  • Picryl Chloride / immunology
  • Prednisolone / pharmacology


  • Endorphins
  • Naloxone
  • Prednisolone
  • Picryl Chloride