Effects of Vagal Nerve Stimulation on Ganglionated Plexi Nerve Activity and Ventricular Rate in Ambulatory Dogs With Persistent Atrial Fibrillation

Zhaolei Jiang, Ye Zhao, Wei Chung Tsai, Yuan Yuan, Kroekkiat Chinda, Jian Tan, Patrick Onkka, Changyu Shen, Lan S. Chen, Michael C. Fishbein, Shien Fong Lin, Peng Sheng Chen, Thomas H. Everett

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3 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study was designed to test the hypothesis that low-level vagal nerve stimulation (VNS) reduces the ventricular rate (VR) during atrial fibrillation (AF) through the activation of the inferior vena cava (IVC)–inferior atrial ganglionated plexus nerve activity (IAGPNA). Background: Increased IVC-IAGPNA can suppress atrioventricular node conduction and slow VR in canine models of AF. Methods: Persistent AF was induced in 6 dogs and the IVC-IAGPNA, right vagal nerve activity, left vagal nerve activity, and an electrocardiogram were recorded. After persistent AF was documented, VNS was programed to 14 s “on” and 1.1 min “off.” After 1 week, the VNS was reprogramed to 3 min off and stimulation continued for another week. Neural remodeling of the stellate ganglion (SG) was assessed with tyrosine hydroxylase staining and terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling staining. Results: Average IVC-IAGPNA was increased during both VNS 1.1 min off (8.20 ± 2.25 μV [95% confidence interval (CI): 6.33 to 9.53 μV]; p = 0.002) and 3 min off (7.96 ± 2.03 μV [95% CI: 6.30 to 9.27 μV]; p = 0.001) versus baseline (7.14 ± 2.20 μV [95% CI: 5.35 to 8.52 μV]). VR was reduced during both VNS 1.1 min off (123.29 ± 6.29 beats/min [95% CI: 116.69 to 129.89 beats/min]; p = 0.001) and 3 min off (120.01 ± 4.93 beats/min [95% CI: 114.84 to 125.18 beats/min]; p = 0.001) compared to baseline (142.04 ± 7.93 bpm [95% CI: 133.72 to 150.37]). Abnormal regions were observed in the left SG, but not in the right SG. Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling–positive neurons were found in 22.2 ± 17.2% [95% CI: 0.9% to 43.5%] of left SG cells and 12.8 ± 8.4% [95% CI: 2.4% to 23.2%] of right SG cells. Conclusions: Chronic low-level VNS increases IVC-IAGPNA and damages bilateral stellate ganglia. Both mechanisms could contribute to the underlying mechanism of VR control during AF.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1106-1114
Number of pages9
JournalJACC: Clinical Electrophysiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018



  • atrial fibrillation
  • ganglionated plexi
  • neuromodulation
  • stellate ganglion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)

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