Acute Cardiovascular Responses to Vagus Nerve Stimulation after Experimental Spinal Cord Injury.
Sachdeva R, Krassioukov AV, Bucksot JE, Hays SA
Pairing vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) with rehabilitation has emerged as a potential strategy to enhance plasticity and improve recovery in a range of neurological disorders. A recent study highlights the therapeutic promise of VNS in promoting motor recovery after spinal cord injury (SCI). We investigated the safety of acute VNS in a rat model of chronic SCI. We measured the cardiovascular response to various VNS paradigms following chronic high-thoracic SCI that is known to deleteriously impact cardiovascular control. Dose-response experiments with continuous VNS revealed an SCI-dependent increase in sensitivity for heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP) compared with controls. A clinically relevant intermittent VNS resulted in transient reduction in HR in rats with SCI; however, BP remained unaltered. In all experiments, the effect lasted only while the VNS stimulus train was present, as HR and BP restored to baseline values as soon as VNS ended. No prolonged episodes of persisting hypotension were seen in either group. Further, VNS did not trigger autonomic dysreflexia or exacerbate the severity of autonomic dysreflexia when induced during or after stimulation sessions. Overall, these findings provide initial evidence that intermittent VNS at parameters used for targeted plasticity therapy (30 Hz, 0.8 mA) appears safe and supports further investigation of this potential therapy for use following SCI.