Vagus nerve stimulation alleviates cardiac dysfunction and inflammatory markers during heart failure in rats

Auton Neurosci. 2024 Mar 4;253:103162. doi: 10.1016/j.autneu.2024.103162. Online ahead of print.


Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is under clinical investigation as a therapy for heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF). This study aimed to investigate its therapeutic effects on three main components of heart failure: cardiac function, cardiac remodeling and central neuroinflammation using a pressure overload (PO) rat model. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into four groups: PO, PO + VNS, PO + VNS sham, and controls. All rats, except controls, underwent a PO surgery to constrict the thoracic aorta (~50 %) to induce HFrEF. Open loop VNS therapy was continuously administered to PO + VNS rats at 20 Hz, 1.0 mA for 60 days. Evaluation of cardiac function and structure via echocardiograms showed decreases in stroke volume and relative ejection fraction and increases in the internal diameter of the left ventricle during systole and diastole in PO rats (p < 0.05). However, these PO-induced adverse changes were alleviated with VNS therapy. Additionally, PO rats exhibited significant increases in myocyte cross sectional areas indicating hypertrophy, along with significant increases in myocardial fibrosis and apoptosis, all of which were reversed by VNS therapy (p < 0.05). Furthermore, VNS mitigated microglial activation in two central autonomic nuclei: the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus and locus coeruleus. These findings demonstrate that when VNS therapy is initiated at an early stage of HFrEF progression (<10 % reduction in relative ejection fraction), the supplementation of vagal activity is effective in restoring multi organ homeostasis in a PO model.

PMID:38513382 | DOI:10.1016/j.autneu.2024.103162