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vagus nerve stimulation for autoimmune diseases - check this out!

Discussion in 'Lupus News, Awareness and Research' started by Amanda F., May 19, 2016.

  1. Amanda F.

    Amanda F. Member

    Hi everyone,

    Have you heard about vagus nerve stimulation for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases? This is all very recent, I believe. Like, in the last year or two. So here's my interpretation of what I read (I may not be entirely accurate on this so you should google and read up on it if you're interested).

    Supposedly, the vagus nerve is responsible for sending signals to the spleen to turn OFF production of immune cells. I think the theory is that when it fails to send the signals properly, the spleen just generating immune cells (can't turn it off). A doctor named Kevin Tracey supposedly did some experiments in mice that were infected. They cut nerves one by one to see which mice would fail to stop their immune response after clearing the pathogen. They narrowed it down to the vagus nerve. So then they experimented with electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve (I guess below where it had been cut so the signal would reach the spleen?). And it stopped the immune response.

    So then they did a trial on people with RA. I think there were around 180 participants. And the results sounded really impressive. Then I read about another trial they did (I think in Amsterdam?) that didn't get results as good. So hmm.... But I think there are likely new trials ongoing or coming up soon. Not sure when or where.

    fyi, vagus nerve stimulation has been used for quite some time to treat epilepsy (and maybe other things). It's considered relatively safe. And it's not nearly as invasive as some surgeries I've had!

  2. lazylegs

    lazylegs Moderator

    Hi Amanda,

    The idea of lowering inflammation by stimulating the vagus nerve sounds interesting. Presently people use stimulators in their backs to lower pain levels. Whether we will be using stimulators or medications to control similar factors may be the future.

    Take care,

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