Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease of autoimmune origin. Huo-luo-xiao-ling dan (HLXL) is an herbal mixture that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine over several decades to treat chronic inflammatory diseases including RA. However, the mechanism of the anti-arthritic action of this herbal remedy is poorly understood at the molecular level. In this study, we determined by microarray analysis the effects of HLXL on the global gene expression profile of the draining lymph node cells (LNC) in the rat adjuvant arthritis (AA) model of human RA. In LNC restimulated in vitro with the disease-related antigen mycobacterial heat-shock protein 65 (Bhsp65), 84 differentially expressed genes (DEG) (64 upregulated and 20 downregulated) versus 120 DEG (94 upregulated and 26 downregulated) were identified in HLXL-treated versus vehicle (Water)-treated rats, respectively, and 62 DEG (45 upregulated and 17 downregulated) were shared between the two groups. The most affected pathways in response to HLXL treatment included immune response, inflammation, cellular proliferation and apoptosis, and metabolic processes, many of which are directly relevant to arthritis pathogenesis. These results would advance our understanding of the mechanisms underlying the anti-arthritic activity of HLXL.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common, costly, and difficult to
treat disorder that impairs health-related quality of life and work
productivity. Evidence-based treatment guidelines have been unable to
provide guidance on the effects of acupuncture for IBS because the only
previous systematic review included only small, heterogeneous and
methodologically unsound trials.
The primary objectives were to assess the efficacy and safety of
acupuncture for treating IBS.
MEDLINE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, EMBASE,
the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health, and the Chinese databases
Sino-Med, CNKI, and VIP were searched through November 2011.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that compared acupuncture with
sham acupuncture, other active treatments, or no (specific) treatment, and
RCTs that evaluated acupuncture as an adjuvant to another treatment, in
adults with IBS were included.
Data collection and analysis
Two authors independently assessed the risk of bias and extracted
data. We extracted data for the outcomes overall IBS symptom severity and
health-related quality of life. For dichotomous data (e.g. the IBS Adequate
Relief Question), we calculated a pooled relative risk (RR) and 95%
confidence interval (CI) for substantial improvement in symptom severity
after treatment. For continuous data (e.g. the IBS Severity Scoring System),
we calculated the standardized mean difference (SMD) and 95% CI in
post-treatment scores between groups.
Seventeen RCTs (1806 participants) were included. Five RCTs compared
acupuncture versus sham acupuncture. The risk of bias in these studies was
low.We found no evidence of an improvement with acupuncture relative to sham
(placebo) acupuncture for symptom severity (SMD-0.11, 95%CI
−0.35 to 0.13; 4 RCTs; 281 patients) or quality of life (SMD =
−0.03, 95%CI −0.27 to 0.22; 3 RCTs; 253 patients).
Sensitivity analyses based on study quality did not change the results. A
GRADE analysis indicated that the overall quality of the evidence for the
primary outcomes in the sham controlled trials was moderate due to sparse
data. The risk of bias in the four Chinese language comparative
effectiveness trials that compared acupuncture with drug treatment was high
due to lack of blinding. The risk of bias in the other studies that did not
use a sham control was high due to lack of blinding or inadequate methods
used for randomization and allocation concealment or both. Acupuncture was
significantly more effective than pharmacological therapy and no specific
treatment. Eighty-four per cent of patients in the acupuncture group had
improvement in symptom severity compared to 63% of patients in the
pharmacological treatment group (RR 1.28, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.45; 5
studies, 449 patients). A GRADE analysis indicated that the overall quality
of the evidence for this outcome was low due to a high risk of bias (no
blinding) and sparse data. Sixty-three per cent of patients in the
acupuncture group had improvement in symptom severity compared to
34% of patients in the no specific therapy group (RR 2.11,
95% CI 1.18 to 3.79; 2 studies, 181 patients). There was no
statistically significant difference between acupuncture and Bifidobacterium
(RR 1.07, 95% CI 0.90 to 1.27; 2 studies; 181 patients) or between
acupuncture and psychotherapy (RR 1.05, 95% CI 0.87 to 1.26; 1
study; 100 patients). Acupuncture as an adjuvant to another Chinese medicine
treatment was significantly better than the other treatment alone.
Ninety-three per cent of patients in the adjuvant acupuncture group improved
compared to 79% of patients who received Chinese medicine alone (RR
1.17, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.33; 4 studies; 466 patients). There was one
adverse event (i.e. acupuncture syncope) associated with acupuncture in the
9 trials that reported this outcome, although relatively small sample sizes
limit the usefulness of these safety data.
Sham-controlled RCTs have found no benefits of acupuncture relative
to a credible sham acupuncture control for IBS symptom severity or
IBS-related quality of life. In comparative effectiveness Chinese trials,
patients reported greater benefits from acupuncture than from two
antispasmodic drugs (pinaverium bromide and trimebutine maleate), both of
which have been shown to provide a modest benefit for IBS. Future trials may
help clarify whether or not these reportedly greater benefits of acupuncture
relative to pharmacological therapies are due entirely to patients’
preferences for acupuncture or greater expectations of improvement on
acupuncture relative to drug therapy.
*Acupuncture Therapy; Irritable Bowel Syndrome [*therapy]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Humans
Huo-luo-xiao-ling dan (HLXL) is an herbal mixture that has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and other inflammatory disorders. Despite the availability of potent conventionally used drugs for RA, their limited efficacy in a proportion of patients coupled with their high cost and severe adverse effects has necessitated the search for novel therapeutics for this debilitating disease. Further, the control of both inflammation and bone damage is essential for effective management of arthritis. The aim of our study was to evaluate the efficacy of HLXL against arthritic bone damage in adjuvant arthritis (AA) model of RA. Our results show that HLXL treatment suppressed inflammatory arthritis and reduced bone and cartilage damage in the joints of arthritic Lewis rats. HLXL-induced protection against bone damage was mediated primarily via inhibition of mediators of osteoclastic bone remodeling (e.g., receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand; RANKL), skewing of RANKL/osteoprotegerin (OPG) ratio in favor of antiosteoclastic activity, reduction in the number of osteoclasts in the arthrodial joint's bone, and inhibition of cytokine production and MMP activity. Our results suggest that HLXL might offer a promising alternative/adjunct treatment for both inflammation and bone damage in RA.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), used in China and other Asian counties for thousands of years, is increasingly utilized in Western countries. However, due to inherent differences in how Western medicine and this ancient modality are practiced, employing so-called Western medicine-based gold standard research methods to evaluate TCM is challenging. This article is a discussion of the obstacles inherent in the design and statistical analysis of clinical trials of TCM. It is based on our experience in designing and conducting a randomized controlled clinical trial of acupuncture for post-operative dental pain control in which acupuncture was shown to be statistically and significantly better than placebo in lengthening the median survival time to rescue drug. We demonstrate here that PH assumptions in the common Cox model did not hold in that trial and that TCM trials warrant more thoughtful modeling and more sophisticated models of statistical analysis. TCM study design entails all the challenges encountered in trials of drugs, devices, and surgical procedures in Western medicine. We present possible solutions to some but leave many issues unresolved.
traditional Chinese medicine (TCM); acupuncture; postoperative dental pain; accelerated failure time model; blinding in randomized clinical trials
We previously showed that electroacupuncture (EA) activates medulla-spinal serotonin-containing neurons. The present study investigated the effects of intrathecal 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine creatinine sulfate (5,7-DHT), a selective neurotoxin for serotonergic terminals, the 5-hydroxytryptamine 1A receptor (5-HT1AR) antagonist NAN-190 hydrobromide and the 5-HT2C receptor (5-HT2CR) antagonist SB-242,084 on EA anti-hyperalgesia. EA was given twice at acupoint GB30 after complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) injection into hind paw. CFA-induced hyperalgesia was measured by assessing hind paw withdrawal latency (PWL) to a noxious thermal stimulus 30 min post-EA. Serotonin depletion and the 5-HT1AR antagonist blocked EA anti-hyperalgesia; the 5-HT2CR antagonist did not. Immunohistochemical staining showed that spinal 5-HT1AR was expressed and that 5-HT2CR was absent in naive and CFA-injected animals 2.5 hr post-CFA. These results show a correlation between EA anti-hyperalgesia and receptor expression. Collectively, the data show that EA activates supraspinal serotonin neurons to release 5-HT, which acts on spinal 5-HT1AR to inhibit hyperalgesia.
acupuncture; serotonin; spinal cord; hyperalgesia; complete Freund’s adjuvant
Although studies demonstrate that electroacupuncture (EA) alleviates the sensory dimension of pain, they have not addressed EA’s effect on the affective dimension. An inflammatory pain rat model, produced by a complete Freund adjuvant (CFA) injection into the hind paw, was combined with a conditioned place avoidance (CPA) test to determine EA’s effects and its underpinning mechanism on the affective dimension of pain. CFA-injected rats showed place aversion, i.e. the affective dimension of pain, by spending less time in a pain-paired compartment after conditioning than before, while saline-injected rats did not. CFA rats given EA treatment at GB30 before a postconditioning test showed no aversion to the pain-paired compartment, indicating that EA inhibited the affective response. Intra-rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) administration of a κ-, but not μ-opioid receptor antagonist, blocked EA action. These data demonstrate that EA activates opioid receptors in the rACC to inhibit the affective dimension of pain.
acupuncture; opioid; anterior cingulate cortex; pain; complete Freund’s adjuvant
Pain has both sensory-discriminative and emotional-affective dimensions. Previous studies demonstrate that electroacupuncture (EA) alleviates the sensory dimension but do not address the affective. An inflammatory pain rat model, produced by a complete Freund adjuvant (CFA) injection into the hind paw, was combined with a conditioned place avoidance (CPA) test to determine whether EA inhibits spontaneous pain-induced affective response and, if so, to study the possibility that rostral anterior cingulate cortex (rACC) opioids underlie this effect. Male Sprague-Dawley rats (250–275g, Harlan) were used. The rats showed place aversion (i.e. affective pain) by spending less time in a pain-paired compartment after conditioning than during a preconditioning test. Systemic non-analgesic morphine (0.5 and 1.0 mg/ kg, i.p.) inhibited the affective reaction, suggesting that the affective dimension is underpinned by mechanisms different from those of the sensory dimension of pain. Morphine at 0.5 and at 1 mg/kg did not induce reward. Rats given EA treatment before pain-paired conditioning at GB 30 showed no aversion to the pain-paired compartment, indicating that EA inhibited the affective dimension. EA treatment did not produce reward or aversive effect. Intra-rACC administration of D-Phe-Cys-Tyr-D-Trp-Orn-Thr-Pen-Thr amide (CTOP), a selective mu opioid receptor antagonist, but not norbinaltorphimine (nor-BNI), a selective kappa opioid receptor antagonist, blocked EA inhibition of the affective dimension. These data demonstrate that EA activates opioid receptors in the rACC to inhibit pain-induced affective responses and that EA may be an effective therapy for both the sensory-discriminative and the affective dimensions of pain.
Acupuncture; Anterior cingulate cortex; Opioid; Affective pain; CTOP
The increasing burden of chronic diseases presents not only challenges to the knowledge and expertise of the professional medical community, but also highlights the need to improve the quality and relevance of clinical research in this domain. Many patients now turn to complementary and integrative medicine (CIM) to treat their chronic illnesses; however, there is very little evidence to guide their decision-making in usual care. The following research recommendations were derived from a CIM Stakeholder Symposium on Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER): (1) CER studies should be made a priority in this field; (2) stakeholders should be engaged at every stage of the research; (3) CER study designs should highlight effectiveness over efficacy; (4) research questions should be well defined to enable the selection of an appropriate CER study design; (5) the CIM community should cultivate widely shared understandings, discourse, tools, and technologies to support the use and validity of CER methods; (6) Effectiveness Guidance Documents on methodological standards should be developed to shape future CER studies. CER is an emerging field and its development and impact must be reflected in future research strategies within CIM. This stakeholder symposium was a first step in providing systematic guidance for future CER in this field.
Research supports the effectiveness of acupuncture for conditions such as chronic low back and knee pain. In a five-patient pilot study the modality also improved the symptoms of chemotherapy-induced neuropathic pain. Using an established rat model of paclitaxel-induced peripheral neuropathy, we evaluated the effect of electroacupuncture (EA) on paclitaxel-induced hyperalgesia and allodynia that has not been studied in an animal model. We hypothesize that EA would relieve the paclitaxel-induced mechanical allodynia and hyperalgesia, which was assessed 30 minutes after EA using von Frey filaments. Beginning on day 13, the response frequency to von Frey filaments (4-15 g) was significantly increased in paclitaxel-injected rats compared to those injected with vehicle. EA at 10Hz significantly (p<0.05) decreased response frequency at 4-15 g compared to sham EA; EA at 100Hz only decreased response frequency at 15 g stimulation. Compared to sham EA plus vehicle, EA at 10Hz plus either a μ, δ, or κ opioid receptor antagonist did not significantly decrease mechanical response frequency, indicating that all three antagonists blocked EA inhibition of allodynia and hyperalgesia. Since we previously demonstrated that μ and δ but not κ opioid receptors affect EA anti-hyperalgesia in an inflammatory pain model, these data show that EA inhibits pain through different opioid receptors under varying conditions. Our data indicate that EA at 10Hz inhibits mechanical allodynia/hyperalgesia more potently than does EA at 100Hz. Thus, EA significantly inhibits paclitaxel-induced allodynia/hyperalgesia through spinal opioid receptors, and EA may be a useful complementary treatment for neuropathic pain patients.
Chemotherapy pain; Acupuncture; Hyperalgesia; Spinal cord; Opioid
It has been reported that intracerebroventricular injection of a μ receptor antagonist blocked 2 but not 100 Hz electroacupuncture (EA)-produced analgesia in an uninjured animal model. Because persistent pain changes neural response to external stimulation, we hypothesized that the mechanisms of EA anti-hyperalgesia may be different in persistent pain than in health. Hyperalgesia, decreased paw withdrawal latency (PWL) to a noxious thermal stimulus, was induced by subcutaneously injecting complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA) into the hind paws of rats. Selective antagonists against μ (CTOP: D-Phe-Cys-Tyr-D-Trp-Orn-Thr-Pen-ThrNH2, 6.25 nmol) and κ (Nor-BIN: nor-binaltorphimine, 10 nmol) opioid receptors were infused into the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM) 10 min before 30-min EA treatment at acupoint Huanti (GB30) 1 hr 30 min post-CFA. PWL was measured before and 2.5 post-CFA. Both 10 Hz and 100 Hz EA-produced anti-hyperalgesia were blocked by intra-RVM μ, but not κ, receptor antagonists. Double immunofluorescence staining demonstrated that μ receptor-containing neurons were GABAnergic and that GABAa receptor-containing neurons were serotonergic in the RVM. The results demonstrated an involvement of RVM μ, but not κ, receptors in EA-produced anti-hyperalgesia. In summary, EA may induce release of endogenous endomorphins that activate μ opioid receptors in GABAnergic neurons to suppress the release of GABA. This removes the tonic inhibition of GABA on serotonergic neurons in the RVM, and activation of these serotonergic neurons inhibits pain. EA may be used as complementary treatment for inflammatory pain.
acupuncture; hyperalgesia; pain; opioid receptor; RVM
AIM: To investigate the key factors in developing the trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid (TNBS)-induced post-inflammatory irritable bowel syndrome (PI-IBS) model in rats.
METHODS: TNBS was administered to rats at the following conditions: (1) with different doses (20, 10, 5 mg/0.8 mL per rat); (2) with same dose in different concentrations (20 mg/rat, 25, 50 mg/mL); (3) in different ethanol percentage (25%, 50%); and (4) at depth either 4 cm or 8 cm from anus. At 5 d and 4 wk after TNBS administration, inflammation severity and inflammation resolution were evaluated. At 4 and 8 wk after TNBS application, visceral hyperalgesia and enterochromaffin (EC) cell hyperplasia were assayed by abdominal withdrawal reflex test, silver staining and capillary electrophoresis.
RESULTS: Our results showed that: (1) TNBS induced dose-dependent acute inflammation and inflammation resolution. At 5 d post TNBS, the pathological score and myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity in all TNBS treated rats were significantly elevated compared to that of the control (9.48 ± 1.86, 8.18 ± 0.67, 5.78 ± 0.77 vs 0, and 3.55 ± 1.11, 1.80 ± 0.82, 0.97 ± 0.08 unit/mg vs 0.14 ± 0.01 unit/mg, P < 0.05). At 4 wk post TNBS, the pathological score in high and median dose TNBS-treated rats were still significantly higher than that of the control (1.52 ± 0.38 and 0.80 ± 0.35 vs 0, P < 0.05); (2) Intracolonic TNBS administration position affected the persistence of visceral hyperalgesia. At 4 wk post TNBS, abdominal withdrawal reflex (AWR) threshold pressure in all TNBS-treated groups were decreased compared to that of the control (21.52 ± 1.73 and 27.10 ± 1.94 mmHg vs 34.44 ± 1.89 mmHg, P < 0.05). At 8 wk post TNBS, AWR threshold pressure in 8 cm administration group was still significantly decreased (23.33 ± 1.33 mmHg vs 36.79 ± 2.29 mmHg, P < 0.05); (3) Ethanol percentage affected the TNBS-induced inflammation severity and visceral hyperalgesia. In TNBS-25% ethanol-treated group, the pathological score and MPO activity were significantly lowered compared to that of the TNBS-50% ethanol-treated group, while AWR threshold pressure were significantly elevated (36.33 ± 0.61 mmHg vs 23.33 ± 1.33 mmHg, P < 0.05); and (4) TNBS (5 mg/0.8 mL per rat, in 50% ethanol, 8 cm from anus)-treated rats recovered completely from the inflammation with acquired visceral hyperalgesia and EC cell hyperplasia at 4 wk after TNBS administration.
CONCLUSION: TNBS dosage, concentration, intracolonic administration position, and ethanol percentage play important roles in developing visceral hyperalgesia and EC cell hyperplasia of TNBS-induced PI-IBS rats.
Post-inflammatory; Irritable bowel syndrome; Rat model; Trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid; Key factors
The Cochrane Collaboration, an international not-for-profit organization that prepares and maintains systematic reviews of randomized trials of health care therapies, has produced reviews summarizing much of the evidence on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Our objective was to review the evidence base according to Cochrane systematic reviews.
In order to detect reviews focusing on TCM, we searched the titles and abstracts of all reviews in Issue 4, 2008 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. For each review, we extracted data on the number of trials included and the total number of participants. We provided an indication of the strength of the review findings by assessing the reviewers’ abstract conclusions statement. We supplemented our assessment of the abstract conclusions statements with a listing of the comparisons and outcomes showing statistically significant meta-analyses results.
We identified 70 Cochrane systematic reviews of TCM, primarily acupuncture (n = 26) and Chinese herbal medicine (n = 42), and 1 each of moxibustion and t’ai chi. Nineteen (19) of 26 acupuncture reviews and 22/42 herbal medicine reviews concluded that there was not enough good quality trial evidence to make any conclusion about the efficacy of the evaluated treatment, while the remaining 7 acupuncture and 20 herbal medicine reviews and each of the moxibustion and t’ai chi reviews indicated a suggestion of benefit, which was qualified by a caveat about the poor quality and quantity of studies. Most reviews included many distinct interventions, controls, outcomes, and populations, and a large number of different comparisons were made, each with a distinct forest plot.
Most Cochrane systematic reviews of TCM are inconclusive, due specifically to the poor methodology and heterogeneity of the studies reviewed. Some systematic reviews provide preliminary evidence of Chinese medicine’s benefits to certain patient populations, underscoring the importance and appropriateness of further research. These preliminary findings should be considered tentative and need to be confirmed with rigorous randomized controlled trials.
The Cochrane Collaboration, an international not-for-profit organization that prepares and maintains systematic reviews of randomized trials of health care therapies, has produced reviews summarizing much of the evidence on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Our objective was to review the evidence base according to Cochrane systematic reviews.
In order to detect reviews focusing on TCM, we searched the titles and abstracts of all reviews in Issue 4, 2008 of the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. For each review, we extracted data on the number of trials included and the total number of participants. We provided an indication of the strength of the review findings by assessing the reviewers' abstract conclusions statement. We supplemented our assessment of the abstract conclusions statements with a listing of the comparisons and outcomes showing statistically significant meta-analyses results.
We identified 70 Cochrane systematic reviews of TCM, primarily acupuncture (n = 26) and Chinese herbal medicine (n = 42), and 1 each of moxibustion and t'ai chi. Nineteen (19) of 26 acupuncture reviews and 22/42 herbal medicine reviews concluded that there was not enough good quality trial evidence to make any conclusion about the efficacy of the evaluated treatment, while the remaining 7 acupuncture and 20 herbal medicine reviews and each of the moxibustion and t'ai chi reviews indicated a suggestion of benefit, which was qualified by a caveat about the poor quality and quantity of studies. Most reviews included many distinct interventions, controls, outcomes, and populations, and a large number of different comparisons were made, each with a distinct forest plot.
Most Cochrane systematic reviews of TCM are inconclusive, due specifically to the poor methodology and heterogeneity of the studies reviewed. Some systematic reviews provide preliminary evidence of Chinese medicine's benefits to certain patient populations, underscoring the importance and appropriateness of further research. These preliminary findings should be considered tentative and need to be confirmed with rigorous randomized controlled trials.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory disease affecting the joints that can lead to deformities and disability. The prolonged use of conventionally used drugs is associated with severe adverse reactions. Therefore, safer and less expensive therapeutic products are continually being sought. Huo-Luo-Xiao-Ling dan (HLXL), a traditional Chinese herbal mixture, and its modified versions possess anti-arthritic activity. In this paper, we examined the influence of modified HLXL on two of the key mediators of arthritic inflammation and tissue damage, namely, chemokines and matrix-metalloproteinases (MMPs) in the rat adjuvant-induced arthritis (AA) model of RA. We treated arthritic Lewis rats with HLXL (2.3 g/kg) by daily gavage beginning at the onset of AA. The control rats received the vehicle. At the peak phase of AA, rats were sacrificed and their draining lymph node cells (LNC) and spleen adherent cells (SAC) were tested. The HLXL-treated rats showed a significant reduction in the levels of chemokines (RANTES, MCP-1, MIP-1α, and GRO/KC), MMPs (MMP 2 and 9), as well as cytokines (IL-6 and IL-17) that induce them, compared to the control vehicle-treated rats. Thus, HLXL controls arthritis in part by suppressing the mediators of immune pathology, and it might offer a promising alternative/adjunct treatment for RA.
For Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) there is a need to develop scales for appraisal of available clinical research. Aims were to 1) test the feasibility of applying the pragmatic-explanatory continuum indicator summary tool and the six CER defining characteristics of the Institute of Medicine to RCTs of acupuncture for treatment of low back pain, and 2) evaluate the extent to which the evidence from these RCTs is relevant to clinical and health policy decision making.
We searched Medline, the AcuTrials™ Database to February 2011 and reference lists and included full-report randomized trials in English that compared needle acupuncture with a conventional treatment in adults with non-specific acute and/or chronic low back pain and restricted to those with ≥30 patients in the acupuncture group. Papers were evaluated by 5 raters.
From 119 abstracts, 44 full-text publications were screened and 10 trials (4,901 patients) were evaluated. Due to missing information and initial difficulties in operationalizing the scoring items, the first scoring revealed inter-rater and inter-item variance (intraclass correlations 0.02–0.60), which improved after consensus discussions to 0.20–1.00. The 10 trials were found to cover the efficacy-effectiveness continuum; those with more flexible acupuncture and no placebo control scored closer to effectiveness.
Both instruments proved useful, but need further development. In addition, CONSORT guidelines for reporting pragmatic trials should be expanded. Most studies in this review already reflect the movement towards CER and similar approaches can be taken to evaluate comparative effectiveness relevance of RCTs for other treatments.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic debilitating disease characterized by synovial inflammation, damage to cartilage and bone, and deformities of the joints. Several drugs possessing anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory properties are being used in the conventional (allopathic) system of medicine to treat RA. However, the long-term use of these drugs is associated with harmful side effects. Therefore, newer drugs with low or no toxicity for the treatment of RA are actively being sought. Interestingly, several herbs demonstrate anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic activity. In this review, we describe the role of the major biochemical and molecular mediators in the pathogenesis of RA, and highlight the sites of action of herbal medicinal products that have anti-arthritic activity. With the rapidly increasing use of CAM products by patients with RA and other inflammation-related disorders, our review presents timely information validating the scientific rationale for the use of natural therapeutic products.
Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM); Herbal products; Inflammatory mediators; Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
Over the past decade the Cochrane Collaboration has been an increasingly important source of information on complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies. From 2007 to 2008 the Cochrane CAM Field developed a topics list that allowed us to categorize all 396 Cochrane reviews related to CAM (as of The Cochrane Library, Issue 4, 2009). This topics list is an advance in making Cochrane reviews on CAM topics accessible to the public. In this paper, we discuss challenges in developing the topics list, including developing an operational definition of CAM, deciding which reviews should be included within the CAM Field’s scope, developing the structured list of CAM Field-specific topics, and determining where in the topics list the reviews should be placed. Although aspects of our operational definition of CAM are open to revision, a standardized definition provides us with an objective, reproducible and systematic method for defining and classifying CAM therapies.
complementary medicine; systematic reviews; randomized trials; evidence-based medicine; Cochrane Collaboration
Peripheral joint osteoarthritis is a major cause of pain and functional limitation. Few treatments are safe and effective.
To assess the effects of acupuncture for treating peripheral joint osteoarthritis.
We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library 2008, Issue 1), MEDLINE, and EMBASE (both through December 2007), and scanned reference lists of articles.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing needle acupuncture with a sham, another active treatment, or a waiting list control group in people with osteoarthritis of the knee, hip, or hand.
Data collection and analysis
Two authors independently assessed trial quality and extracted data. We contacted study authors for additional information. We calculated standardized mean differences using the differences in improvements between groups.
Sixteen trials involving 3498 people were included. Twelve of the RCTs included only people with OA of the knee, 3 only OA of the hip, and 1 a mix of people with OA of the hip and/or knee. In comparison with a sham control, acupuncture showed statistically significant, short-term improvements in osteoarthritis pain (standardized mean difference -0.28, 95% confidence interval -0.45 to -0.11; 0.9 point greater improvement than sham on 20 point scale; absolute percent change 4.59%; relative percent change 10.32%; 9 trials; 1835 participants) and function (-0.28, -0.46 to -0.09; 2.7 point greater improvement on 68 point scale; absolute percent change 3.97%; relative percent change 8.63%); however, these pooled short-term benefits did not meet our predefined thresholds for clinical relevance (i.e. 1.3 points for pain; 3.57 points for function) and there was substantial statistical heterogeneity. Additionally, restriction to sham-controlled trials using shams judged most likely to adequately blind participants to treatment assignment (which were also the same shams judged most likely to have physiological activity), reduced heterogeneity and resulted in pooled short-term benefits of acupuncture that were smaller and non-significant. In comparison with sham acupuncture at the six-month follow-up, acupuncture showed borderline statistically significant, clinically irrelevant improvements in osteoarthritis pain (-0.10, -0.21 to 0.01; 0.4 point greater improvement than sham on 20 point scale; absolute percent change 1.81%; relative percent change 4.06%; 4 trials;1399 participants) and function (-0.11, -0.22 to 0.00; 1.2 point greater improvement than sham on 68 point scale; absolute percent change 1.79%; relative percent change 3.89%). In a secondary analysis versus a waiting list control, acupuncture was associated with statistically significant, clinically relevant short-term improvements in osteoarthritis pain (-0.96, -1.19 to -0.72; 14.5 point greater improvement than sham on 100 point scale; absolute percent change 14.5%; relative percent change 29.14%; 4 trials; 884 participants) and function (-0.89, -1.18 to -0.60; 13.0 point greater improvement than sham on 100 point scale; absolute percent change 13.0%; relative percent change 25.21%). In the head-on comparisons of acupuncture with the ‘supervised osteoarthritis education’ and the ‘physician consultation’ control groups, acupuncture was associated with clinically relevant short- and long-term improvements in pain and function. In the head on comparisons of acupuncture with ‘home exercises/advice leaflet’ and ‘supervised exercise’, acupuncture was associated with similar treatment effects as the controls. Acupuncture as an adjuvant to an exercise based physiotherapy program did not result in any greater improvements than the exercise program alone. Information on safety was reported in only 8 trials and even in these trials there was limited reporting and heterogeneous methods.
Sham-controlled trials show statistically significant benefits; however, these benefits are small, do not meet our pre-defined thresholds for clinical relevance, and are probably due at least partially to placebo effects from incomplete blinding. Waiting list-controlled trials of acupuncture for peripheral joint osteoarthritis suggest statistically significant and clinically relevant benefits, much of which may be due to expectation or placebo effects.
Acupuncture Therapy [*methods]; Arthralgia [therapy]; Osteoarthritis, Hip [*therapy]; Osteoarthritis, Knee [*therapy]; Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic; Recovery of Function; Humans
Cancer pain impairs the quality of life of cancer patients, but opioid intervention can cause significant side effects that further decrease quality of life. Although electroacupuncture (EA) has been used to treat cancer pain, its mechanisms are largely unknown. To examine its effects and underlying mechanisms on cancer pain, we injected AT-3.1 prostate cancer cells into the tibia to induce bone cancer in the male Copenhagen rat. The resulting pain was treated with 10 Hz/ 2 mA/ 0.4 ms pulse EA for 30 min daily at the point equivalent to the human acupoint GB30 (Huantiao) between days 14 and 18 after the injection. For sham control, EA needles were inserted into GB30 without stimulation. Thermal hyperalgesia, a decrease in paw withdrawal latency (PWL) to a noxious thermal stimulus, and mechanical hyperalgesia, a decrease in paw withdrawal pressure threshold (PWPT), was measured at baseline and 20 min after the EA treatment. Preprodynorphin mRNA and dynorphin were respectively determined by RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry. Thermal and mechanical hyperalgesia developed ipsilaterally between days 12 and 18 after cancer cell inoculation. EA significantly (P<0.05) attenuated this hyperalgesia, increasing PWL and PWPT, and inhibited up-regulation of preprodynorphin mRNA and dynorphin compared to sham control. Intrathecal injection of antiserum against dynorphin A (1-17) also significantly inhibited the cancer-induced hyperalgesia.
These results suggest that EA alleviates bone cancer pain at least in part by suppressing dynorphin expression, and they support the clinical use of EA in the treatment of cancer pain.
Cancer pain; Acupuncture; Hyperalgesia; Spinal cord; Dynorphin
Eleven authenticated botanicals used in the traditional Chinese medicine Huo-Luo-Xiao-Ling Dan were screened for ligands to cyclooxygenase (COX) using pulsed ultrafiltration liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, and a mass spectrometry-based enzyme assay was used to determine the concentration of each of 17 ligands that inhibited COX-1 or COX-2 by 50% (IC50). Acetyl-11-keto-β-boswellic -boswellic acid, acid, acetyl-α-boswellic acid, acetyl-β-boswellic acid, and betulinic acid were COX-1 selective inhibitors with IC50 values of approximately 10 μM. Senkyunolide O and cryptotanshinone were COX-2 selective inhibitors with IC50 values of 5 and 22 μM, respectively. Roburic acid and phenethyl-trans-ferulate inhibited COX-1 and COX-2 equally. COX inhibition and the IC50 values of most of these natural product ligands have not been reported previously.
Cyclooxygenase; COX-2; drug discovery; botanical dietary supplements; senkyunolide O; cryptotanshinone
Osteoarthritis currently has no cure. Acupuncture can benefit patients with knee osteoarthritis by providing pain relief, improving joint function and serving as an effective complement to standard care. However, the underlying mechanisms of its effects are still not completely understood. The present study, an investigation of the effectiveness and mechanisms of electroacupuncture (EA) in attenuating osteoarthritis pain in a rat model, is focused on the involvement of 5-hydroxytryptamine 2A/C (5-HT2A/C) receptors, which play an important role in pain modulation at the spinal level. Osteoarthritis was induced under isoflurane anesthesia by a single intraarticular injection of monosodium iodoacetate (3 mg/50 μL/rat) into one hind leg of each rat. EA was given at acupoints GB 30 and ST 36 on days 1–4 after the injection. Vehicle or ketanserin, a 5-HT2A/C receptor antagonist, was given intraperitoneally (1 mg kg−1) or intrathecally (5 μg or 10 μg/10 μL), 30 min before each EA treatment. Assessment of weight-bearing difference between injected and uninjected hind legs was done on days 0, 1–4 and 7. Fos /serotonin and serotonin/Fluorogold double labeling were performed to determine EA activation of serotonergic neurons in the nucleus raphe magnus (NRM) that project to spinal cord. The results showed that EA significantly decreases weight-bearing difference compared to sham EA. Ketanserin pretreatment blocked the analgesic effect of EA but did not influence weight bearing in sham EA control rats. EA also activated serotonergic NRM neurons that project to the spinal cord. These data show that EA inhibits osteoarthritis-induced pain by enhancing spinal 5-HT2A/2C receptor activity.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a debilitating autoimmune disease of global prevalence. The disease is characterized by synovial inflammation leading to cartilage and bone damage. Most of the conventional drugs used for the treatment of RA have severe adverse reactions and are quite expensive. Over the years, increasing proportion of patients with RA and other immune disorders are resorting to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) for their health needs. Natural plant products comprise one of the most popular CAM for inflammatory and immune disorders. These herbal CAM belong to diverse traditional systems of medicine, including traditional Chinese medicine, Kampo, and Ayurvedic medicine. In this paper, we have outlined the major immunological pathways involved in the induction and regulation of autoimmune arthritis and described various herbal CAM that can effectively modulate these immune pathways. Most of the information about the mechanisms of action of herbal products in the experimental models of RA is relevant to arthritis patients as well. The study of immunological pathways coupled with the emerging application of genomics and proteomics in CAM research is likely to provide novel insights into the mechanisms of action of different CAM modalities.
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is one of the major autoimmune diseases of global prevalence. The use of the anti-inflammatory drugs for the treatment of RA is associated with severe adverse reactions and toxicity. This limitation has necessitated the search for novel therapeutic products. We report here a traditional Chinese medicine-based herbal formula, Huo luo xiao ling dan (HLXL), which has potent antiarthritic activity as validated in the rat adjuvant-induced arthritis (AA) model. HLXL (2.3 g/Kg) was fed to Lewis (RT.11) rats daily by gavage beginning at the onset of arthritis and then continued through the observation period. HLXL inhibited the severity of ongoing AA. This suppression of arthritis was associated with significant alterations in the T cell proliferative and cytokine responses as well as the antibody response against the disease-related antigen, mycobacterial heat-shock protein 65 (Bhsp65). There was a reduction in the level of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-17 and IL-1β but enhancement of the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10 level. In addition, there was inhibition of both the anti-Bhsp65 antibody response and the serum level of nitric oxide. Thus, HLXL is a promising CAM modality for further testing in RA patients.
HLXL is a traditional Chinese medicine that has long been used in folk medicine for the treatment of chronic inflammatory diseases. However, the precise immunological mechanisms by which HLXL mediates its anti-inflammatory activity are not fully defined.
Aim of the study
To determine the effects of HLXL on antigen-specific immune parameters in adjuvant-induced inflammation model in the Lewis rat.
Materials and Methods
Rats were fed daily with either HLXL (2.3 g/kg) or vehicle (water) beginning 3 d before subcutaneous injection of heat-killed M. tuberculosis H37Ra (Mtb), and then continued for another 6 d. After 9 d of Mtb injection, the draining lymph node cells were tested for T cell proliferative and cytokine responses against mycobacterial heat-shock protein 65 (Bhsp65). Moreover, sera were tested for anti-Bhsp65 antibodies and nitric oxide (NO).
HLXL-treated rats showed reduced T cell proliferative response to Bhsp65 compared to control rats. Furthermore, HLXL suppressed IL-17 response but enhanced IL-10 response without much effect on IFN-γ. HLXL treatment also reduced the levels of anti-Bhsp65 antibodies but not that of NO.
HLXL feeding modulated both the cellular and the humoral immune response to Bhsp65 favoring an anti-inflammatory milieu for suppression of adjuvant-induced inflammation.
Huo-Luo-Xiao-Ling Dan; Immune modulation; Cytokines; Antibodies; T cells; Inflammation
While it is well established that acupuncture relieves somatic pain, its therapeutic effect on visceral pain such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is unclear. We evaluated the effect of acupuncture in treating visceral hyperalgesia in an animal model.
Sprague-Dawley rats (n = 8 per group) with prior neonatal maternal separation stress were randomly allocated to receive 3-day treatment of either electroacupuncture (EA) or sham acupuncture at acupoint ST-36. Another group of rats without prior maternal separation was included as non-handled controls. Colorectal distension was performed on the day after acupuncture treatment. The 3 groups were compared for pain threshold as determined by abdominal withdrawal reflex and visceromotor response as measured by electromyogram. Colon, spinal cord, and brainstem were sampled for topographic distribution and quantitative assessment of serotonin and Fos expression by immunohistochemistry.
Rats in EA group had significantly higher pain threshold compared to those in sham acpuncture group (25.0 ± 5.7 mmHg vs 18.7 ± 5.2 mmHg, p = 0.01) and it was comparable with that of non-handled treatment naïve controls (29.4 ± 9.3 mmHg, p = 0.28). They also had lower visceromotor response as measured by electromyogram compared to those received sham acupuncture at all colorectal distension pressures. EA significantly suppressed Fos expression in doral raphe nuclei of brainstem, superficial dorsal horn of spinal cord and colonic epithelium but suppressed 5-HT expression only in brainstem and spinal cord.
Electro acupuncture attenuates visceral hyperlagesia through down-regulation of central serotonergic activities in the brain-gut axis.
Electroacupuncture; Hyperalgesia; Brain-gut axis; Fos; Serotonin