We recently demonstrated that bee venom (BV) injection into the Zusanli acupoint produced a significantly more potent anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effect than injection into a non-acupoint in a Freund's adjuvant induced rheumatoid arthritis (RA) model. However, the precise BV constituents responsible for these antinociceptive and/or anti-inflammatory effects are not fully understood. In order to investigate the possible role of the soluble fraction of BV in producing the anti-arthritic actions of BV acupuncture, whole BV was extracted into two fractions according to solubility (a water soluble fraction, BVA and an ethylacetate soluble fraction, BVE) and the BVA fraction was further tested. Subcutaneous BVA injection (0.9 mg/kg/day) into the Zusanli acupoint was found to dramatically inhibit paw edema and radiological change (i.e. new bone proliferation and soft tissue swelling) caused by Freund's adjuvant injection. BVA treatment also reduced the increase in serum interleukin-6 caused by RA induction to levels observed in non-arthritic animals. In addition, BVA therapy significantly reduced arthritis-induced nociceptive behaviors (i.e. nociceptive scores for mechanical hyperalgesia and thermal hyperalgesia). Finally, BVA treatment significantly suppressed adjuvant-induced Fos expression in the lumbar spinal cord at 3 weeks post-adjuvant injection. In contrast, BVE treatment (0.05 mg/kg/day) failed to show any anti-inflammatory or antinociceptive effects on RA. The results of the present study demonstrate that BVA is the effective fraction of whole BV responsible for the antinociception and anti-inflammatory effects of BV acupuncture treatment. Thus it is recommended that this fraction of BV be used for long-term treatment of RA-induced pain and inflammation. However, further study is necessary to clarify which constituents of the BVA fraction are directly responsible for these anti-arthritis effects.
- Bee venom
- Water-soluble fraction