Electrically Stimulating Vagus Nerve May Help Control Inflammation in IBD

Electrically Stimulating Vagus Nerve May Help Control Inflammation in IBD
Electrically stimulating the vagus nerve could help control inflammation in certain diseases — including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) — according to a new study, and researchers have developed a device that allows the nerve to be stimulated electrically without triggering unwanted side effects. “Kilohertz Frequency Nerve Block Enhances Anti-Inflammatory Effects Of Vagus Nerve Stimulation” was published in the journal Scientific Reports. The vagus nerve passes through the neck and thorax to the abdomen, and it works by passing electrical signals between the brain and the visceral organs, such as the stomach, lungs, and heart. It's responsible for conveying information on the state and function of those organs, controlling their activity, and "telling" the brain when something is wrong. It also regulates the immune system. Inflammatory diseases such as IBD are characterized by excessive activation of inflammatory pathways, which can damage healthy tissues. The vagus nerve controls inflammation, so stimulating it could potentially temper swelling and help manage IBD symptoms. Treatments based on activating the vagus nerve have been tested before in patients. But the nerve also includes a pathway that promotes inflammation, so its activation can be counterproductive. "The original studies in animals on the anti-inflammatory benefits of vagus nerve stimulation resorted to nerve transections to achieve directional stimulation as well as boost effectiveness of nerve stimulation,” Yogi Patel, the study's lead author, said in a news release. “But cutting the vagus is not clinically viable — due to the multitude of vital bodily functions it monitors and regulates. Our approach provides the same therapeutic benefit, but is also immediately rev
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