Volume 63 (2001) Issue 3 Pages 251-259
Although the injection of bee venom (BV) has been reported to evoke tonic pain and hyperalgesia, there is conflicting evidence in the literature indicating that BV can also exert an anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive effects on inflammation. In this regard, BV has been traditionally used in Oriental medicine to relieve pain and to treat chronic inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. The present study was designed to test the hypothesis that BV induces acute nociception under normal conditions, but that it can serve as a potent anti-inflammatory and antinociceptive agent in a localized inflammatory state. The experiments were designed to evaluate the effect of BV pretreatment on carrageenan (CR)-induced acute paw edema and thermal hyperalgesia. In addition, spinal cord Fos expression induced by peripheral inflammation was quantitatively analyzed. In normal animals subcutaneous BV injection into the hindlimb was found to slightly increase Fos expression in the spinal cord without producing detectable nociceptive behaviors or hyperalgesia. In contrast pretreatment with BV (0.8 mg/kg) 30 min prior to CR injection suppressed both the paw edema and thermal hyperalgesia evoked by CR. In addition, there was a positive correlation between the percent change in paw volume and the expression of Fos positive neurons in the spinal cord. These results indicate that BV pretreatment has both antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory effects in CR-induced inflammatory pain. These data also suggest that BV administration may be useful in the treatment of the pain and edema associated with chronic inflammatory diseases.