Anti-inflammatory effects of vagus nerve stimulation in pediatric patients with epilepsy

Author: Supender Kaur1, Nathan R Selden2, Alejandro Aballay1
1 Department of Molecular Microbiology & Immunology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, United States.
2 Department of Neurological Surgery, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, OR, United States.
Conference/Journal: Front Immunol
Date published: 2023 Feb 10
Other: Volume ID: 14 , Pages: 1093574 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2023.1093574. , Word Count: 217

The neural control of the immune system by the nervous system is critical to maintaining immune homeostasis, whose disruption may be an underlying cause of several diseases, including cancer, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer's disease.

Here we studied the role of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) on gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Vagus nerve stimulation is widely used as an alternative treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy. Thus, we studied the impact that VNS treatment has on PBMCs isolated from a cohort of existing patients with medically refractory epilepsy. A comparison of genome-wide changes in gene expression was made between the epilepsy patients treated and non-treated with vagus nerve stimulation.

The analysis showed downregulation of genes related to stress, inflammatory response, and immunity, suggesting an anti-inflammatory effect of VNS in epilepsy patients. VNS also resulted in the downregulation of the insulin catabolic process, which may reduce circulating blood glucose.

These results provide a potential molecular explanation for the beneficial role of the ketogenic diet, which also controls blood glucose, in treating refractory epilepsy. The findings indicate that direct VNS might be a useful therapeutic alternative to treat chronic inflammatory conditions.

Keywords: blood glucose; cytokines; insulin; neuroimmune; peripheral blood monocytes cells; seizure; tumor necrosis factor; vagus nerve stimulation.

PMID: 36845140 PMCID: PMC9951815 DOI: 10.3389/fimmu.2023.1093574