Project Title

Transcutaneous Auricular Vagal Nerve Stimulation (taVNS) as a Potential Treatment for Cardiac, Gastric Motility, and Migraine Disorders

Authors' Affiliations

Misty Owens, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Laura Dugan, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Ariana Farrand, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Coty Cooper, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Vitaly Napadow, Martinos Ctr. for Biomed. Imaging, Massachusetts Gen. Hosp., Charleston, MA; Radiology, Logan University, Chesterfield, MO. Eric Beaumont, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Quillen College of Medicine, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN.

Location

Culp Ballroom

Start Date

4-7-2022 9:00 AM

End Date

4-7-2022 12:00 PM

Poster Number

57

Faculty Sponsor’s Department

Biomedical Sciences

Name of Project's Faculty Sponsor

Eric Beaumont

Additional Sponsors

Eric Beaumont, Michelle Chandley, Diego Rodriguez Gil, Antonio Rusinol, Matthew Zahner

Classification of First Author

Graduate Student-Doctoral

Competition Type

Competitive

Type

Poster Presentation

Project's Category

Neuroscience

Abstract or Artist's Statement

Transcutaneous auricular vagal nerve stimulation (taVNS) is a non-invasive method of activating axons in the auricular branch of the vagus nerve through the concha of the outer ear. taVNS is under investigation as an alternative treatment option for a wide range of disorders. Vagal afferent fibers terminate in the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS) where information is processed and relayed to higher brain regions influencing sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. Due to extensive neuronal connections, it is likely that taVNS could serve as a treatment option for many disorders, specifically cardiac, migraine, and gastric motility disorders. Human fMRI studies have indicated that taVNS elicits neuronal responses within NTS and spinal trigeminal nucleus (Sp5c). Studies have indicated that caudal NTS (cNTS) has substantial connections with the cardiac system, rostral NTS (rNTS) is relevant for gastric motility, and Sp5c is likely involved in migraine disorders due to meningeal connections. Aberrant neuronal signaling is likely responsible for the development of these disorders, and taVNS has the potential to modulate neuronal activity to reestablish homeostatic signaling. In this study, electrophysiological methods were used to interrogate neuronal activity of 50-70 neurons within cNTS, rNTS, and Sp5c following taVNS. A high-impedance tungsten electrode was placed stereotaxically in 15 male Sprague-Dawley rats anesthetized with chloralose. Changes in neuronal firing rates were investigated during and immediately following taVNS by comparing changes in neuronal activity to baseline levels using the software Spike 2 v9.14. Neurons were classified as negative responders if activity decreased more than 20%, positive responders if activity increased more than 20%, or non-responders if activity changes were less than 20%. Six different taVNS parameters were investigated using three frequencies (20, 100, 250Hz) at two intensity levels (0.5, 1.0mA). Data from this study suggest that taVNS can modulate neuronal activity in a frequency and intensity-dependent manner. The greatest positive activation for all 3 brain regions occurred at 20Hz, 1.0mA stimulation where an average of 46% ± 9% neurons showed increased firing compared to 29% ± 2% positive responders for other paradigms. The greatest negative activation for all 3 regions occurred at 100Hz, regardless of intensity, where an average of 33% ± 1% neurons showed reduced firing compared to 15% ± 2% negative responders for remaining paradigms. Based on what is known about cardiac, migraine, and gastric motility disorders, it is likely that taVNS can be used to modulate activity in NTS and Sp5c to provide beneficial treatment options to patients. Specifically, using paradigms yielding decreased activity in Sp5c could improve migraine symptoms, and paradigms increasing activity in cNTS and rNTS could improve cardiac and gastric motility disorders, respectively.

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Apr 7th, 9:00 AM Apr 7th, 12:00 PM

Transcutaneous Auricular Vagal Nerve Stimulation (taVNS) as a Potential Treatment for Cardiac, Gastric Motility, and Migraine Disorders

Culp Ballroom

Transcutaneous auricular vagal nerve stimulation (taVNS) is a non-invasive method of activating axons in the auricular branch of the vagus nerve through the concha of the outer ear. taVNS is under investigation as an alternative treatment option for a wide range of disorders. Vagal afferent fibers terminate in the nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS) where information is processed and relayed to higher brain regions influencing sympathetic and parasympathetic systems. Due to extensive neuronal connections, it is likely that taVNS could serve as a treatment option for many disorders, specifically cardiac, migraine, and gastric motility disorders. Human fMRI studies have indicated that taVNS elicits neuronal responses within NTS and spinal trigeminal nucleus (Sp5c). Studies have indicated that caudal NTS (cNTS) has substantial connections with the cardiac system, rostral NTS (rNTS) is relevant for gastric motility, and Sp5c is likely involved in migraine disorders due to meningeal connections. Aberrant neuronal signaling is likely responsible for the development of these disorders, and taVNS has the potential to modulate neuronal activity to reestablish homeostatic signaling. In this study, electrophysiological methods were used to interrogate neuronal activity of 50-70 neurons within cNTS, rNTS, and Sp5c following taVNS. A high-impedance tungsten electrode was placed stereotaxically in 15 male Sprague-Dawley rats anesthetized with chloralose. Changes in neuronal firing rates were investigated during and immediately following taVNS by comparing changes in neuronal activity to baseline levels using the software Spike 2 v9.14. Neurons were classified as negative responders if activity decreased more than 20%, positive responders if activity increased more than 20%, or non-responders if activity changes were less than 20%. Six different taVNS parameters were investigated using three frequencies (20, 100, 250Hz) at two intensity levels (0.5, 1.0mA). Data from this study suggest that taVNS can modulate neuronal activity in a frequency and intensity-dependent manner. The greatest positive activation for all 3 brain regions occurred at 20Hz, 1.0mA stimulation where an average of 46% ± 9% neurons showed increased firing compared to 29% ± 2% positive responders for other paradigms. The greatest negative activation for all 3 regions occurred at 100Hz, regardless of intensity, where an average of 33% ± 1% neurons showed reduced firing compared to 15% ± 2% negative responders for remaining paradigms. Based on what is known about cardiac, migraine, and gastric motility disorders, it is likely that taVNS can be used to modulate activity in NTS and Sp5c to provide beneficial treatment options to patients. Specifically, using paradigms yielding decreased activity in Sp5c could improve migraine symptoms, and paradigms increasing activity in cNTS and rNTS could improve cardiac and gastric motility disorders, respectively.