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B fibers are the best predictors of cardiac activity during Vagus nerve stimulation

Kurt Y Qing, Kelsey M Wasilczuk, Matthew P Ward, Evan H Phillips, Pavlos P Vlachos, Craig J Goergen, Pedro P Irazoqui
Bioelectronic Medicine2018
Background: Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a promising therapy for many neurologic and psychiatric conditions. However, determining stimulus parameters for individual patients is a major challenge. The traditional method of titrating stimulus intensity based on patient perception produces highly variable responses. This study explores using the vagal response to measure stimulation dose and predict physiological effect. Clinicians are investigating the use of VNS for heart failure management, and this work aims to correlate cardiac measures with vagal fiber activity. Results: By recording vagal activity during VNS in rats and using regression analysis, we found that cardiac activity across all animals was best correlated to the activation of a specific vagal fiber group. With conduction velocities ranging from 5 to 10 m/s, these fibers are classified as B fibers (using the Erlanger-Gasser system) and correspond to vagal parasympathetic efferents. Conclusions: B fiber activation can serve as a standardized, objective measure of stimulus dose across all subjects. Tracking fiber activation provides a more systematic way to study the effects of VNS and in the future, may lead to a more consistent method of therapy delivery.

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