Specific vagus nerve stimulation parameters alter serum cytokine levels in the absence of inflammation.
Background: Electrical stimulation of peripheral nerves is a widely used technique to treat a variety of conditions including chronic pain, motor impairment, headaches, and epilepsy. Nerve stimulation to achieve efficacious symptomatic relief depends on the proper selection of electrical stimulation parameters to recruit the appropriate fibers within a nerve. Recently, electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve has shown promise for controlling inflammation and clinical trials have demonstrated efficacy for the treatment of inflammatory disorders. This application of vagus nerve stimulation activates the inflammatory reflex, reducing levels of inflammatory cytokines during inflammation.
Methods: Here, we wanted to test whether altering the parameters of electrical vagus nerve stimulation would change circulating cytokine levels of normal healthy animals in the absence of increased inflammation. To examine this, we systematically tested a set of electrical stimulation parameters and measured serum cytokine levels in healthy mice.
Results: Surprisingly, we found that specific combinations of pulse width, pulse amplitude, and frequency produced significant increases of the pro-inflammatory cytokine tumor necrosis factor (TNF), while other parameters selectively lowered serum TNF levels, as compared to sham-stimulated mice. In addition, serum levels of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) were significantly increased by select parameters of electrical stimulation but remained unchanged with others.
Conclusions: These results indicate that electrical stimulation parameter selection is critically important for the modulation of cytokines via the cervical vagus nerve and that specific cytokines can be increased by electrical stimulation in the absence of inflammation. As the next generation of bioelectronic therapies and devices are developed to capitalize on the neural regulation of inflammation, the selection of nerve stimulation parameters will be a critically important variable for achieving cytokine-specific changes.
PMID: 32309522 [PubMed]
Bioelectron Med. 2020;6:8
Authors: Tsaava T, Datta-Chaudhuri T, Addorisio ME, Masi EB, Silverman HA, Newman JE, Imperato GH, Bouton C, Tracey KJ, Chavan SS, Chang EH