Paired vagus nerve stimulation drives precise remyelination and motor recovery after myelin loss

bioRxiv [Preprint]. 2024 May 12:2024.05.10.593609. doi: 10.1101/2024.05.10.593609.


Myelin loss in the central nervous system can cause permanent motor or cognitive deficits in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS). While current immunotherapy treatments decrease the frequency of demyelinating episodes, they do not promote myelin repair or functional recovery. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a neuromodulation therapy which enhances neuroplasticity and the recovery of motor function after stroke, but its effects on myelin repair are not known. To determine if VNS influences myelin repair, we applied VNS following a demyelinating injury and measured longitudinal myelin dynamics and functional recovery. We found that VNS promotes remyelination by increasing the generation of myelinating oligodendrocytes. Pairing VNS with a skilled reach task leads to the regeneration of myelin sheaths on previously myelinated axon segments, enhancing the restoration of the original pattern of myelination. Moreover, the magnitude of sheath pattern restoration correlates with long-term motor functional improvement. Together, these results suggest that recovery of the myelin sheath pattern is a key factor in the restoration of motor function following myelin loss and identify paired VNS as a potential remyelination therapy to treat demyelinating diseases.

PMID:38766201 | PMC:PMC11100833 | DOI:10.1101/2024.05.10.593609