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Auton Neurosci. 2016 Aug;199:48-53. doi: 10.1016/j.autneu.2016.06.004. Epub 2016 Jun 28.

The strange case of the ear and the heart: The auricular vagus nerve and its influence on cardiac control.

Author information

1
School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, United Kingdom.
2
School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, United Kingdom; Faculty of Pharmacy, National University of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
3
School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, United Kingdom. Electronic address: J.Deuchars@leeds.ac.uk.

Abstract

The human ear seems an unlikely candidate for therapies aimed at improving cardiac function, but the ear and the heart share a common connection: the vagus nerve. In recent years there has been increasing interest in the auricular branch of the vagus nerve (ABVN), a unique cutaneous subdivision of the vagus distributed to the external ear. Non-invasive electrical stimulation of this nerve through the skin may offer a simple, cost-effective alternative to the established method of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), which requires a surgical procedure and has generated mixed results in a number of clinical trials for heart failure. This review discusses the available evidence in support of modulating cardiac activity using this strange auricular nerve.

KEYWORDS:

Auricular; Autonomic; Heart; Sympathetic; Vagus; Vagus nerve stimulation

PMID:
27388046
DOI:
10.1016/j.autneu.2016.06.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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