Basic Research|Articles in Press

Transcutaneous Auricular Vagus Nerve Stimulation Normalizes Induced Gastric Myoelectrical Dysrhythmias in Controls Assessed by Body-Surface Gastric Mapping



      Transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (TaVNS) is a supplementary treatment for gastric symptoms resulting from dysrhythmias. The main objective of this study was to quantify the effects of 10, 40, and 80 Hz TaVNS and sham in healthy individuals in response to a 5-minute water-load (WL5) test.

      Materials and Methods

      Eighteen healthy volunteers aged between 21 and 55 years (body mass index: 27.1 ± 3.2) were recruited. Each subject fasted for up to eight hours and participated in four 95-minute sessions, which consisted of 30 fasted baseline, 30 minutes TaVNS, WL5, and 30 minutes post-WL5. Heart rate variability was assessed using sternal electrocardiogram. Body-surface gastric mapping and bloating (/10) were recorded. One-way ANOVA with post hoc Tukey test was performed to test the difference between TaVNS protocols in terms of frequency, amplitude, bloating scores, root mean square of the successive differences (RMSSD), and stress index (SI).


      On average, the subjects consumed 526 ± 160 mL of water, with volume ingested correlated to bloating (mean score 4.1 ± 1.8; r = 0.36, p = 0.029). In general, the reduction in frequency and rhythm stability during the post-WL5 period in sham was normalized by all three TaVNS protocols. Both 40- and 80-Hz protocols also caused increases in amplitude during the stim-only and/or post-WL5 periods. RMSSD increased during the 40-Hz protocol. SI increased during the 10-Hz protocol but decreased during the 40- and 80-Hz protocols.


      TaVNS proved effective in normalizing gastric dysrhythmias by WL5 in healthy subjects by altering both parasympathetic and sympathetic pathways.

      Graphical abstract


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