Vagus Nerve Stimulation and Sacral Nerve Stimulation for Inflammatory Bowel Disease: A Systematic Review

J Transl Gastroenterol. 2023 Oct-Dec;1(2):94-100. doi: 10.14218/jtg.2023.00098. Epub 2023 Dec 25.


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: In this systematic review, we assessed the efficacy, potential mechanisms, and safety of two neuromodulation therapies in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. The first therapy is vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) utilizing implantable or transcutaneous electrodes, and the second is sacral nerve stimulation (SNS) using implantable or percutaneous electrodes.

METHODS: We conducted a systematic literature review following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. The PubMed database was comprehensively searched, and studies were rigorously assessed for inclusion and exclusion criteria.

RESULTS: Our analysis encompassed five clinical studies, three on VNS and two on SNS. Most investigated studies demonstrated significant beneficial effects on IBD symptoms, including disease activity, severity of intestinal lesions, and intestinal pain. When evaluating the impact on key IBD pathophysiologies, both VNS and SNS exhibited trends toward reducing biomarkers of intestinal mucosal inflammation and mitigating sympathetic dominance. Importantly, none of the evaluated neuromodulation methods resulted in long-term adverse effects.

CONCLUSIONS: Cumulative evidence from the evaluated studies indicates that VNS and SNS therapies effectively alleviate IBD symptoms and may hold promise in addressing the underlying pathophysiologies of IBD, including intestinal mucosal inflammation and sympathetic dominance. Consequently, they represent valuable options for individualized IBD treatment.

PMID:38606364 | PMC:PMC11007757 | DOI:10.14218/jtg.2023.00098