Basic Research|Articles in Press

Auricular Vagal Nerve Stimulation Inhibited Central Nerve Growth Factor/Tropomyosin Receptor Kinase A/Phospholipase C-Gamma Signaling Pathway in Functional Dyspepsia Model Rats With Gastric Hypersensitivity

Published:February 16, 2023DOI:



      Functional dyspepsia (FD), which has a complicated pathophysiologic process, is a common functional gastrointestinal disease. Gastric hypersensitivity is the key pathophysiological factor in patients with FD with chronic visceral pain. Auricular vagal nerve stimulation (AVNS) has the therapeutic effect of reducing gastric hypersensitivity by regulating the activity of the vagus nerve. However, the potential molecular mechanism is still unclear. Therefore, we investigated the effects of AVNS on the brain-gut axis through the central nerve growth factor (NGF)/ tropomyosin receptor kinase A (TrkA)/phospholipase C-gamma (PLC-γ) signaling pathway in FD model rats with gastric hypersensitivity.

      Materials and Methods

      We established the FD model rats with gastric hypersensitivity by means of colon administration of trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid on ten-day-old rat pups, whereas the control rats were given normal saline. AVNS, sham AVNS, K252a (an inhibitor of TrkA, intraperitoneally), and K252a + AVNS were performed on eight-week-old model rats for five consecutive days. The therapeutic effect of AVNS on gastric hypersensitivity was determined by the measurement of abdominal withdrawal reflex response to gastric distention. NGF in gastric fundus and NGF, TrkA, PLC-γ, and transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1) in the nucleus tractus solitaries (NTS) were detected separately by polymerase chain reaction, Western blot, and immunofluorescence tests.


      It was found that a high level of NGF in gastric fundus and an upregulation of the NGF/TrkA/PLC-γ signaling pathway in NTS were manifested in model rats. Meanwhile, both AVNS treatment and the administration of K252a not only decreased NGF messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) and protein expressions in gastric fundus but also reduced the mRNA expressions of NGF, TrkA, PLC-γ, and TRPV1 and inhibited the protein levels and hyperactive phosphorylation of TrkA/PLC-γ in NTS. In addition, the expressions of NGF and TrkA proteins in NTS were decreased significantly after the immunofluorescence assay. The K252a + AVNS treatment exerted a more sensitive effect on regulating the molecular expressions of the signal pathway than did the K252a treatment.


      AVNS can regulate the brain-gut axis effectively through the central NGF/TrkA/PLC-γ signaling pathway in the NTS, which suggests a potential molecular mechanism of AVNS in ameliorating visceral hypersensitivity in FD model rats.


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