Long-Term Immunomodulatory Impact of VNS on Peripheral Cytokine Profiles and Its Relationship with Clinical Response in Difficult-to-Treat Depression (DTD)

Int J Mol Sci. 2024 Apr 10;25(8):4196. doi: 10.3390/ijms25084196.


Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) represents a long-term adjunctive treatment option in patients with difficult-to-treat depression (DTD). Anti-inflammatory effects have been discussed as a key mechanism of action of VNS. However, long-term investigations in real-world patients are sparse. In this naturalistic observational study, we collected data on cytokines in peripheral blood in n = 6 patients (mean age 47.8) with DTD and VNS treatment at baseline and at 6 months follow-up. We have identified clusters of peripheral cytokines with a similar dynamic over the course of these 6 months using hierarchical clustering. We have investigated cytokine changes from baseline to 6 months as well as the relationship between the cytokine profile at 6 months and long-term response at 12 months. After 6 months of VNS, we observed significant correlations between cytokines (p < 0.05) within the identified three cytokine-pairs which were not present at baseline: IL(interleukin)-6 and IL-8; IL-1β and TNF-α; IFN-α2 and IL-33. At 6 months, the levels of all the cytokines of interest had decreased (increased in non-responders) and were lower (5-534 fold) in responders to VNS than in non-responders: however, these results were not statistically significant. VNS-associated immunomodulation might play a role in long-term clinical response to VNS.

PMID:38673781 | DOI:10.3390/ijms25084196