Bee venom injection produces a peripheral anti-inflammatory effect by activation of a nitric oxide-dependent spinocoeruleus pathway

Seo Yeon Yoon, Young Bae Kwon, Hyun Woo Kim, Dae Hyun Roh, Hyoung Sig Seo, Ho Jae Han, Hye Jung Lee, Alvin J. Beitz, Jang Hern Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Our recent data, obtained using a zymosan-induced inflammatory air pouch model in mice, have demonstrated that subcutaneous bee venom (BV) injection into the hind limb selectively activates the contralateral brain stem locus coeruleus (LC) and then via a descending noradrenergic pathway and subsequent adrenal medullary catecholamine release induces a potent anti-inflammatory effect. While the efferent limb of this BV-induced neuroimmune anti-inflammatory pathway is well documented, the afferent limb of this pathway is poorly understood. In particular the spinal mechanisms involved with BV activation of the LC are currently unknown. Spinal nitric oxide (NO) and its synthase (NOS) have been shown to play an important role in the transmission and amplification of neuronal information from the spinal cord to the brain stem. In the present study we evaluated whether spinal NO plays a role in BV-induced LC activation, since we have previously shown that LC activation underlies this 'BV-induced anti-inflammatory effect' (BVAI) using the mouse air pouch model. Intrathecal (i.t.) pretreatment with l-nitro arginine methyl ester (l-NAME, non-selective NOS inhibitor), hemoglobin (NO scavenger) or 1H-[1,2,4]oxadiazolo[4,3-a]quinoxalin-1-one (ODQ, soluble guanylate cyclase inhibitor) abolished BVAI on zymosan-induced leukocyte migration into the air pouch. Moreover, i.t. injection of l-N-iminoethyl-lysine (l-NIL, inducible NOS inhibitor), but not 7-nitroindazole (7-NI, neuronal NOS inhibitor), also inhibited BVAI. BV injection significantly increased both the number of Fos immunoreactive neurons and tyrosine hydroxylase-Fos double labeling neurons in the contralateral LC in zymosan-induced inflamed mice. Importantly this increase in Fos expression in the LC was also completely inhibited by i.t. injection of l-NIL, but not by i.t. injection of 7-NI. Collectively these results indicate that spinal NO generated from inducible NOS is involved in the BV-induced LC activation that underlies BVAI.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-168
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroscience Letters
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 10 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by a grant (M103KV010009-03K2201-00940) from the Brain Research Center of the 21st Century Frontier Research Program funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology of the Republic of Korea. This work was also supported by the SRC/ERC program of MOST/KOSEF (R11-2005-014) as well as the Brain Korea 21 project, in the College of Veterinary Medicine, Chonnam National University, Korea.


  • Bee venom
  • Inflammation
  • Locus coeruleus
  • Neuroimmune modulation
  • Nitric oxide synthase
  • Spinal cord

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