Transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation for epilepsy

Seizure. 2024 May 30;119:84-91. doi: 10.1016/j.seizure.2024.05.005. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Several studies have suggested that transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) may be effective for the treatment of epilepsy. However, auricular acupoint therapy (including auricular acupuncture and auricular point-sticking therapy), a method of stimulating the vagus nerve, has been poorly reviewed. This systematic review is the first to categorize auricular acupoint therapy as transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS), aiming to assess the efficacy of taVNS in patients with epilepsy (PWE), and to analyse the results of animal experiments on the antiepileptic effects of taVNS.

METHODS: We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Web of Science, Scopus, and various Chinese databases from their inception to June 10, 2023 and found nine clinical studies (including a total of 788 PWE) and eight preclinical studies. We performed a meta-analysis and systematic review of these articles to assess the efficacy of taVNS in PWE and the association between taVNS and electroencephalogram (EEG) changes. We also analysed the effects on epileptic behaviour, latency of the first seizure, and seizure frequency in epileptic animals. The PRISMA 2020 checklist provided by the EQUATOR Network was used in this study.

RESULTS: taVNS had a higher response rate in PWE than the control treatment (OR = 2.94, 95 % CI = 1.94 – 4.46, P < 0.05). The analysis showed that the taVNS group showed wider EEG changes than the control group (OR = 2.17, 95 % CI 1.03 to 4.58, P < 0.05). The preclinical studies analysis revealed significant differences in epileptic behaviour (SMD = -4.78, 95 % CI -5.86 to -3.71, P < 0.05) and seizure frequency (SMD = -5.06, 95 % CI -5.96 to -4.15, P < 0.05) between the taVNS and control groups. No statistical difference was found in the latency of the first seizure between the two groups (SMD =13.54; 95 % CI 7.76 to 19.33, P < 0.05).

CONCLUSION: Based on the available data, PWE may benefit from the use of taVNS. taVNS is an effective procedure for improving epileptic behaviour in animal models.

PMID:38820674 | DOI:10.1016/j.seizure.2024.05.005