Reduced vagal tone in women with endometriosis

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Reduced vagal tone in women with endometriosis and auricular vagus nerve stimulation as a potential therapeutic approach.

Abstract
Sensory and sympathetic nerves have been shown to promote the progression of endometriosis through the release of neuromediators and the lesional activation of respective receptors. The role of vagus nerves (VN) in lesional progression, however, is completely unclear, despite the signs suggestive of increased sympathetic tone in women with endometriosis. This study was undertaken to investigate whether VN plays any role in the progression of endometriosis. We recruited 45 patients with endometriosis and 42 healthy women, who were given electrocardiogram test and their heart rate variability was evaluated. In addition, three prospective, and randomized mouse experiments were conducted that evaluated, respectively, the effect of vagotomy, the effect of VN stimulation (VNS), and the therapeutic potential of VNS after the endometriosis was well established. All lesions were excised, weighed, and processed for immunohistochemistry and histochemistry analysis of select markers for lesional progression and fibrosis. We found that endometriosis patients exhibited reduced vagal activity as compared with controls, indicative of disrupted autonomic balance. Vagotomy increased while VNS decreased the lesion weight as compared with control mice, concomitant with more progressive and retarded lesion development and fibrogenesis, respectively. In addition, VNS demonstrated promising therapeutic effect, as evidenced by significantly reduced lesion weight, more attenuated lesional progression concomitant with improved hyperalgesia. Taken together, our data indicate that VN activity may play a dampening role in the progression of endometriosis. Consequently, boosting the VN activity may have therapeutic potentials for patients with endometriosis.

PMID: 33446725 [PubMed – in process]

Sci Rep. 2021 Jan 14;11(1):1345

Authors: Hao M, Liu X, Rong P, Li S, Guo SW

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