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Vagus Nerve Stimulation Promising in Crohn's Disease

Five of seven patients from pilot study were in deep remission at six-month follow-up

digestive system

WEDNESDAY, May 3, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Vagus nerve stimulation may represent a new therapeutic option for patients with Crohn's disease (CD), according to a report published online April 18 in the Journal of Internal Medicine.

Noting that pharmaceutical treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) with anti-tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) agents is beneficial but has side effects, and that some patients stop treatment or take it periodically, Bruno Bonaz, M.D., Ph.D., from the University Hospital in Grenoble, France, and colleagues discuss the potential of a nondrug therapy targeting TNFα through a physiological pathway.

The researchers note that there is an inverse correlation between vagal tone and plasma TNFα level in patients with CD. In a rat model of colitis and in a pilot study involving seven patients with moderate CD, chronic vagus nerve stimulation had anti-inflammatory properties. After three months of vagus nerve stimulation, two of these patients failed to improve, but five were in deep remission at six-month follow-up, with restoration of vagal tone. There were no major side effects.

"Vagus nerve stimulation provides a new therapeutic option in the treatment of CD," the authors write.

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