Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation: a new strategy for Alzheimer's disease intervention through the brain-gut-microbiota axis?

Author: Long Yan1,2,3, Hong Li1,2,3, Yulin Qian1,2, Junfeng Zhang1,2,3, Shan Cong1,2,3, Xuemin Zhang3, Linna Wu3, Yu Wang1,2, Meng Wang1,2, Tao Yu1,2
1 The First Teaching Hospital of Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tianjin, China.
2 National Clinical Research Center for Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Tianjin, China.
3 Graduate Department, Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Tianjin, China.
Conference/Journal: Front Aging Neurosci
Date published: 2024 Feb 27
Other: Volume ID: 16 , Pages: 1334887 , Special Notes: doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2024.1334887. , Word Count: 186

Transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation (tVNS) is an emerging non-invasive technique designed to stimulate branches of the vagus nerve distributed over the body surface. Studies suggest a correlation between the brain-gut-microbiota (BGM) axis and the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The BGM axis represents a complex bidirectional communication system, with the vagus nerve being a crucial component. Therefore, non-invasive electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve might have the potential to modify-most of the time probably in a non-physiological way-the signal transmission within the BGM axis, potentially influencing the progression or symptoms of AD. This review explores the interaction between percutaneous vagus nerve stimulation and the BGM axis, emphasizing its potential effects on AD. It examines various aspects, such as specific brain regions, gut microbiota composition, maintenance of intestinal environmental homeostasis, inflammatory responses, brain plasticity, and hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis regulation. The review suggests that tVNS could serve as an effective strategy to modulate the BGM axis and potentially intervene in the progression or treatment of Alzheimer's disease in the future.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; HPA axis; brain-gut-microbiota axis; microbiota; transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation.

PMID: 38476661 PMCID: PMC10927744 DOI: 10.3389/fnagi.2024.1334887