Brain-Gut Axis: Invasive and Noninvasive Vagus Nerve Stimulation, Limitations, and Potential Therapeutic Approaches

Author: Fatemeh Hesampour1, Charles N Bernstein2,3, Jean-Eric Ghia1,2,3,4
1 Immunology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.
2 Internal Medicine, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.
3 Inflammatory Bowel Disease Clinical and Research Centre, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.
4 Children's Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada.
Conference/Journal: Inflamm Bowel Dis
Date published: 2023 Sep 21
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1093/ibd/izad211. , Word Count: 226

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic relapsing condition with no known etiology and is characterized by disrupted gut homeostasis, chronic inflammation, and ulcerative lesions. Although current treatments can reduce disease activity, IBD frequently recurs once treatments are discontinued, indicating that treatments are ineffective in providing long-term remission. The lack of responsiveness and reluctance of some affected persons to take medications because of potential adverse effects has enhanced the need for novel therapeutic approaches. The vagus nerve (VN) is likely important in the pathogenesis of IBD, considering the decreased activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, especially the VN, and the impaired interaction between the enteric nervous system and central nervous system in patients with IBD. Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) has demonstrated anti-inflammatory effects in various inflammatory disorders, including IBD, by inhibiting the production of inflammatory cytokines by immune cells. It has been suggested that stimulating the vagus nerve to induce its anti-inflammatory effects may be a potential therapeutic approach for IBD. Noninvasive techniques for VNS have been developed. Considering the importance of VN function in the brain-gut axis, VNS is a promising treatment option for IBD. This review discusses the potential therapeutic advantages and drawbacks of VNS, particularly the use of noninvasive transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation.

Keywords: brain-gut axis; inflammatory bowel disease; noninvasive vagus nerve stimulation; vagus nerve; vagus nerve stimulation.

PMID: 37738641 DOI: 10.1093/ibd/izad211