Vagus nerve stimulation: a new bioelectronics approach to treat rheumatoid arthritis?

F. A. Koopman, P. R. Schuurman, M. J. Vervoordeldonk, P. P. Tak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


There has been a marked improvement in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but most patients do not achieve disease remission. Therefore, there is still a need for new treatments. By screening an adenoviral short hairpin RNA library, we discovered that knockdown of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor type 7 (α7nAChR) in RA fibroblast-like synoviocytes results in an increased production of mediators of inflammation and degradation. The α7nAChR is intimately involved in the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway (CAP). This led us to study the effects of α7nAChR activation in an animal model of RA, and we could show that this resulted in reduced arthritis activity. Accordingly, stimulation of the CAP by vagus nerve stimulation improved experimental arthritis. Conversely, we found aggravation of arthritis activity after unilateral cervical vagotomy as well as in α7nAChR-knockout mice. Together, these data provided the basis for exploration of vagus nerve stimulation in RA patients as a novel anti-inflammatory approach
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-635
JournalBest practice & research. Clinical rheumatology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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