Electroacupuncture versus celecoxib for neuropathic pain in rat SNL model

W. K. Lau, Y. M. Lau, Hong Qi ZHANG*, S. C. Wong, Zhaoxiang BIAN

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Though acupuncture has long been used to treat various kinds of pain, its mechanisms remain partly understood. Our recent study has shown that it may inhibit cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) in the spinal dorsal horn where COX-2 is upregulated after the development of neuropathic pain following spinal nerve ligation (SNL). The current study directly compared the effect of acupuncture with COX-2 inhibitor celecoxib in the spinal cord after SNL in rats. After L5 SNL, the rats were treated either with acupuncture applied to Zusanli (ST36) and Sanyinjiao (SP6) bilaterally with or without electrical stimulation (2 Hz, 0.5-1-2 mA) four times over 22 days, and/or celecoxib fed daily. Paw-withdrawal-threshold to mechanical stimulation and paw-withdrawal-latency to thermal test were tested for neuropathic pain at four intervals following the treatments in comparison with the pre-treatment and non-treatment controls. The results demonstrate that electroacupuncture (EA) had a long lasting and better analgesic effect than celecoxib in reducing neuropathic hypersensitivity. Though COX-2 expression in the spinal L4-L6 dorsal horn by immunostaining was significantly reduced by acupuncture just as well as by celecoxib, the superior analgesic mechanism of acupuncture appears well beyond COX-2 inhibition alone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)655-661
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2010

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Acupuncture
  • Celecoxib
  • COX-2
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Spinal dorsal horn


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