Low-level Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation of the Auricular Branch of Vagus Nerve Ameliorates Left Ventricular Remodeling and Dysfunction by Downregulation of Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 and Transforming Growth Factor β1

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Vagus nerve stimulation improves left ventricular (LV) remodeling by downregulation of matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9) and transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1). Our previous study found that low-level transcutaneous electrical stimulation of the auricular branch of the vagus nerve (LL-TS) could be substituted for vagus nerve stimulation to reverse cardiac remodeling. So, we hypothesize that LL-TS could ameliorate LV remodeling by regulation of MMP-9 and TGF-β1 after myocardial infarction (MI). Twenty-two beagle dogs were randomly divided into a control group (MI was induced by permanent ligation of the left coronary artery, n = 8), an LL-TS group (MI with long-term intermittent LL-TS, n = 8), and a normal group (sham ligation without stimulation, n = 6). At the end of 6 weeks follow-up, LL-TS significantly reduced LV end-systolic and end-diastolic dimensions, improved ejection fraction and ratio of early (E) to late (A) peak mitral inflow velocity. LL-TS attenuated interstitial fibrosis and collagen degradation in the noninfarcted myocardium compared with the control group. Elevated level of MMP-9 and TGF-β1 in LV tissue and peripheral plasma were diminished in the LL-TS treated dogs. LL-TS improves cardiac function and prevents cardiac remodeling in the late stages after MI by downregulation of MMP-9 and TGF-β1 expression.

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