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Keywords:

  • analgesia;
  • Bak Foong Pills (BFP);
  • dysmenorrhoea;
  • somatostatin

Abstract

Dysmenorrhoea, defined as cramping pain in the lower abdomen occurring before or during menstruation, affects, to varying degrees, up to 90% of women of child-bearing age. We investigated whether BFP (Bak Foong Pills), a traditional Chinese medicine treatment for dysmenorrhoea, possesses analgesic properties. Results showed that BFP was able to significantly reduce pain responses following subchronic treatment for 3 days, but not following acute (1 h) treatment in response to acetic acid-induced writhing in C57/B6 mice. The analgesic effect was not due to inhibition of COX (cyclo-oxygenase) activity, evidenced by the lack of inhibition of prostacyclin and PGE2 (prostaglandin E2) production. Molecular analysis revealed that BFP treatment modulated the expression of a number of genes in the spinal cord of mice subjected to acetic acid writhing. RT—PCR (reverse transcription—PCR) analysis of spinal cord samples showed that both sst4 (somatostatin receptor 4) and sst2 receptor mRNA, but not μOR (μ-opiate receptor) and NK1 (neurokinin-1) receptor mRNA, were down-regulated following BFP treatment, thus implicating somatostatin involvement in BFP-induced analgesia. Administration of c-som (cyclo-somatostatin), a somatostatin antagonist, prior to acetic acid-induced writhing inhibited the analgesic effect. Thus subchronic treatment with BFP has anti-nociceptive qualities mediated via the somatostatin pathway.