Oxaliplatin, a chemotherapeutic drug for colorectal cancer, induces severe peripheral neuropathy. Bee venom acupuncture (BVA) has been used to attenuate pain, and its effect is known to be mediated by spinal noradrenergic and serotonergic receptors. Morphine is a well-known opioid used to treat different types of pain. Here, we investigated whether treatment with a combination of these two agents has an additive effect on oxaliplatin-induced neuropathic pain in mice. To assess cold and mechanical allodynia, acetone and von Frey filament tests were used, respectively. Significant allodynia signs were observed three days after an oxaliplatin injection (6 mg/kg, i.p.). BVA (0.25, 1, and 2.5 mg/kg, s.c., ST36) or morphine (0.5, 2, and 5 mg/kg, i.p.) alone showed dose-dependent anti-allodynic effects. The combination of BVA and morphine at intermediate doses showed a greater and longer effect than either BVA or morphine alone at the highest dose. Intrathecal pretreatment with the opioidergic (naloxone, 20 μg) or 5-HT3
(MDL-72222, 15 μg) receptor antagonist, but not with α2
-adrenergic (idazoxan, 10 μg) receptor antagonist, blocked this additive effect. Therefore, we suggest that the combination effect of BVA and morphine is mediated by spinal opioidergic and 5-HT3
receptors and this combination has a robust and enduring analgesic action against oxaliplatin-induced neuropathic pain.
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