Modifying functional brain networks in focal epilepsy by manual visceral-osteopathic stimulation of the vagus nerve at the abdomen

Author: Hendrik Lehnertz1, Timo Broehl2,3, Thorsten Rings2,3, Randi von Wrede2, Klaus Lehnertz2,3,4
Affiliation: <sup>1</sup> BMT Internationale Akademie für Biodynamische Manuelle Therapie GmbH, Bühler, Switzerland. <sup>2</sup> Department of Epileptology, University of Bonn Medical Centre, Bonn, Germany. <sup>3</sup> Helmholtz Institute for Radiation and Nuclear Physics, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany. <sup>4</sup> Interdisciplinary Center for Complex Systems, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.
Conference/Journal: Front Netw Physiol
Date published: 2023 Jul 13
Other: Volume ID: 3 , Pages: 1205476 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fnetp.2023.1205476. , Word Count: 173

Non-invasive transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation elicits similar therapeutic effects as invasive vagus nerve stimulation, offering a potential treatment alternative for a wide range of diseases, including epilepsy. Here, we present a novel, non-invasive stimulation of the vagus nerve, which is performed manually viscero-osteopathically on the abdomen (voVNS). We explore the impact of short-term voVNS on various local and global characteristics of EEG-derived, large-scale evolving functional brain networks from a group of 20 subjects with and without epilepsy. We observe differential voVNS-mediated alterations of these characteristics that can be interpreted as a reconfiguration and modification of networks and their stability and robustness properties. Clearly, future studies are necessary to assess the impact of such a non-pharmaceutical intervention on clinical decision-making in the treatment of epilepsy. However, our findings may add to the current discussion on the importance of the gut-brain axis in health and disease. Clinical Trial Registration:, identifier DRKS00029914.

Keywords: electroencephalogram; enteric nervous system; epilepsy; functional brain network; gut-brain axis; vagus nerve.

PMID: 37520657 PMCID: PMC10374317 DOI: 10.3389/fnetp.2023.1205476