Vagal afferent fibers contribute to the anti-inflammatory of VNS

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Vagal afferent fibers contribute to the anti-inflammatory reactions by vagus nerve stimulation in concanavalin A model of hepatitis in rats.

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Increasing number of studies provide evidence that the vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) dampens inflammation in peripheral visceral organs. However, the effects of afferent fibers of the vagus nerve (AFVN) on anti-inflammation have not been clearly defined. Here, we investigate whether AFVN are involved in VNS-mediated regulation of hepatic production of proinflammatory cytokines.
METHODS: An animal model of hepatitis was generated by intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of concanavalin A (ConA) into rats, and electrical stimulation was given to the hepatic branch of the vagus nerve. AFVN activity was regulated by administration of capsaicin (CAP) or AP-5/CNQX and the vagotomy at the hepatic branch of the vagus nerve (hVNX). mRNA and protein expression in target tissues was analyzed by RT-PCR, real-time PCR, western blotting and immunofluorescence staining. Hepatic immune cells were analyzed by flow cytometry.
RESULTS: TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 mRNAs and proteins that were induced by ConA in the liver macrophages were significantly reduced by the electrical stimulation of the hepatic branch of the vagus nerve (hVNS). Alanine transaminase (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST) levels in serum and the number of hepatic CD4+ and CD8+ T cells were increased by ConA injection and downregulated by hVNS. CAP treatment deteriorated transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1)-positive neurons and increased caspase-3 signals in nodose ganglion (NG) neurons. Concomitantly, CAP suppressed choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) expression that was induced by hVNS in DMV neurons of ConA-injected animals. Furthermore, hVNS-mediated downregulation of TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 expression was hampered by CAP treatment and similarly regulated by hVNX and AP-5/CNQX inhibition of vagal feedback loop pathway in the brainstem. hVNS elevated the levels of α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (α7 nAChR) and phospho-STAT3 (Tyr705; pY-STAT3) in the liver, and inhibition of AFVN activity by CAP, AP-5/CNQX and hVNX or the pharmacological blockade of hepatic α7 nAChR decreased STAT3 phosphorylation.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data indicate that the activity of AFVN contributes to hepatic anti-inflammatory responses mediated by hVNS in ConA model of hepatitis in rats.

PMID: 33272194 [PubMed – in process]

Mol Med. 2020 Dec 03;26(1):119

Authors: Jo BG, Kim SH, Namgung U

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