kHz-frequency electrical stimulation selectively activates small, unmyelinated vagus afferents

Yao-Chuan Chang, Umair Ahmed, Naveen Jayaprakash, Ibrahim Mughrabi, Qihang Lin, Yi-Chen Wu, Michael Gerber, Adam Abbas, Anna Daytz, Arielle H Gabalski, Jason Ashville, Socrates Dokos (+6 others)
Vagal reflexes regulate homeostasis in visceral organs and systems through afferent and efferent neurons and nerve fibers. Small, unmyelinated, C-type afferents comprise over 80% of fibers in the vagus and form the sensory arc of autonomic reflexes of the gut, lungs, heart and vessels and the immune system. Selective bioelectronic activation of C-afferents could be used to mechanistically study and treat diseases of peripheral organs in which vagal reflexes are involved, but it has not been
more » ... eved. We stimulated the vagus in rats and mice using trains of kHz-frequency stimuli. Stimulation effects were assessed using neuronal c-Fos expression, physiological and nerve fiber responses, optogenetic and computational methods. Intermittent kHz stimulation for 30 minutes activates specific motor and, preferentially, sensory vagus neurons in the brainstem. At sufficiently high frequencies (>5kHz) and at intensities within a specific range (7-10 times the activation threshold, T, in rats; 15-25×T in mice), C-afferents are activated, whereas A- and B-fibers are blocked. This was determined by measuring fiber-specific acute physiological responses to kHz stimulus trains, and by assessing fiber excitability around kHz stimulus trains through compound action potentials evoked by probing pulses. Aspects of selective activation of C-afferents are explained in computational models of nerve fibers by how fiber size and myelin shape the response of sodium channels to kHz-frequency stimuli. kHz stimulation is a neuromodulation strategy to robustly and selectively activate vagal C-afferents implicated in physiological homeostasis and disease, over larger vagal fibers.
doi:10.1016/j.brs.2022.09.015 pmid:36241025 fatcat:qbvaauaqevfjjpwz5a4tdwvwgq