Non-opioid-dependent anti-inflammatory effects of low frequency electroacupuncture

Shi Ping Zhang*, Jin Shan Zhang, Ken Kin Lam Yung, Hong Qi Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


Low frequency electroacupuncture, which is commonly used in pain relief, is known to induce opioid-mediated analgesia. This study examined the contribution of the opioid system in mediating the anti-inflammatory effects of low frequency EA in a standard model of acute inflammation, the carrageenan-induced edema model. Carrageenan was injected in the hind paw of anesthetized rats and low frequency electroacupuncture was applied to acupoints equivalent to Zusanli (St 36) and Sanyinjiao (Sp 6) in humans just prior to the induction of inflammation in the ipsilateral leg. Induction of Fos protein, reflecting neuronal activation, was investigated in the spinal cord with immunohistochemistry. It was found that electroacupuncture strongly inhibited the carrageenan-induced edema by over 60%, and suppressed the associated Fos expression in the superficial laminae (I-II) of the ipsilateral dorsal horn by 50%. Neither the anti-edematous effect nor the suppression of Fos expression in the superficial spinal laminae was affected by intraperitoneal injection of the opioid antagonist naloxone. These results demonstrate that low frequency electroacupuncture is capable of inhibiting peripheral inflammation and the associated central neuronal activity via a non-opioid-dependent mechanism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-334
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Research Bulletin
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2004

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Acupuncture
  • c-fos
  • Carrageenan inflammation
  • Dorsal horn
  • Naloxone
  • Pain


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