Effects of tVNS on Rats with Depression

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Effects of Transcutaneous Auricular Vagus Nerve Stimulation on Peripheral and Central Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha in Rats with Depression-Chronic Somatic Pain Comorbidity.

Abstract
Depression and pain disorders share a high degree of comorbidity. Inflammatory mechanisms play an important role in the pathogenesis of depression-chronic somatic pain comorbidity. In this study, we investigated the effects of acupuncture on blood and brain regional tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) in rats with depression and chronic somatic pain comorbidity. Forty Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into the following 4 groups with 10 each: control, model, model treated with transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS), and model treated with electroacupuncture (EA). Chronic unpredictable mild stress (CUMS) with chronic constriction injury of the sciatic nerve (CCI) was used to produce depression and chronic somatic pain comorbidity in the latter 3 groups. The rats of the taVNS and EA groups received, respectively, taVNS and EA at ST 36 for 28 days. Pain intensity was measured using a mechanical withdrawal threshold and thermal stimulation latency once biweekly. Depressive behavior was examined using a sucrose preference test at baseline and the end of modeling and intervention. The level of plasma TNF-α and the expression of TNF-α in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), hippocampus, amygdala, and hypothalamus were measured. While CUMS plus CCI produced remarkable depression-like behavior and pain disorders, EA and taVNS significantly improved depression and reduced pain intensity. CUMS plus CCI also resulted in a significant increase in plasma TNF-α level and the expression in all brain regions examined compared to the intact controls. Both EA and taVNS interventions, however, suppressed the elevated level of TNF-α. These results suggest that EA and taVNS have antidepressant and analgesic effects. Such effects may be associated with the suppression of TNF-α-related neuroinflammation.

PMID: 33144854 [PubMed – in process]

Neural Plast. 2020;2020:8885729

Authors: Guo X, Zhao Y, Huang F, Li S, Luo M, Wang Y, Zhang J, Li L, Zhang Y, Jiao Y, Zhao B, Wang J, Meng H, Zhang Z, Rong P

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