The mechanism of action of vagus nerve stimulation for refractory epilepsy: the current status
Vonck, K × Van Laere, Koen Dedeurwaerdere, S Caemaert, J De Reuck, J Boon, P #
Journal of clinical neurophysiology : official publication of the American Electroencephalographic Society vol:18 issue:5 pages:394-401
Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a neurophysiologic treatment for patients with medically or surgically refractory epilepsy. Since the first human implant in 1989, more than 10,000 patients have been treated with VNS. The precise mechanism of action remains to be elucidated. Animal experiments with VNS were initially performed to demonstrate efficacy and safety preceding the clinical trials in human patients. Mechanism of action research involving animal experiments can provide essential clues. Animal experiments are often labor-intensive even in the hands of experienced researchers, however, and the results remain only a reflection of the complicated pathophysiologic systems of the human brain. Mechanism of action research in human patients treated with VNS is particularly challenging because of safety concerns, the large number of patients required, and the heterogeneous nature of various small patient series. This study provides an overview of the progress that has been made in the past 10 years through neurophysiologic, neuroanatomic, neurochemical, and cerebral blood flow studies in animals and patients treated with VNS. Further elucidation of the mechanism of action of VNS may increase its clinical efficacy. It may also provide inspiration for the development of new therapeutic modalities for refractory epilepsy.