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Neurorehabil Neural Repair. 2016 Aug;30(7):676-84. doi: 10.1177/1545968315616494. Epub 2015 Nov 4.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation During Rehabilitative Training Improves Forelimb Recovery After Chronic Ischemic Stroke in Rats.

Author information

1
The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX 75080-3021, USA.
2
Micro Transponder Inc, Dallas, TX 75204, USA.
3
The University of Texas at Dallas, Richardson, TX 75080-3021, USA seth.hays@utdallas.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVE:

Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability. Currently, there are no consistently effective rehabilitative treatments for chronic stroke patients. Our recent studies demonstrate that vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) paired with rehabilitative training improves recovery of function in multiple models of stroke. Here, we evaluated the ability of VNS paired with rehabilitative training to improve recovery of forelimb strength when initiated many weeks after a cortical and subcortical ischemic lesion in subjects with stable, chronic motor deficits.

METHODS:

Rats were trained to perform an automated, quantitative measure of voluntary forelimb strength. Once proficient, rats received injections of endothelin-1 to cause a unilateral cortical and subcortical ischemic lesion. Then, 6 weeks after the lesion, rats underwent rehabilitative training paired with VNS (Paired VNS; n = 10), rehabilitative training with equivalent VNS delivered 2 hours after daily rehabilitative training (Delayed VNS; n = 10), or rehabilitative training without VNS (Rehab, n = 9).

RESULTS:

VNS paired with rehabilitative training significantly improved recovery of forelimb function compared with control groups. The Paired VNS group displayed an 86% recovery of strength, the Rehab group exhibited 47% recovery, and the Delayed VNS group exhibited 42% recovery. Improvement in forelimb function was sustained in the Paired VNS group after the cessation of stimulation, potentially indicating lasting benefits. No differences in intensity of rehabilitative training, lesion size, or MAP-2 expression were observed between groups.

CONCLUSION:

VNS paired with rehabilitative training confers significantly greater recovery of forelimb function after chronic ischemic stroke in rats.

KEYWORDS:

ischemic stroke; recovery; rehabilitation; vagal stimulation; vagus nerve

PMID:
26542082
PMCID:
PMC4854844
DOI:
10.1177/1545968315616494
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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