Cortical stimulation in conscious rats controls joint inflammation.
The neuronal control of the immune system is fundamental to the development of new therapeutic strategies for inflammatory disorders. Recent studies reported that afferent vagal stimulation attenuates peripheral inflammation by activating specific sympathetic central and peripheral networks, but only few subcortical brain areas were investigated. In the present study, we report that afferent vagal stimulation also activates specific cortical areas, as the parietal and cingulate cortex. Since these cortical structures innervate sympathetic-related areas, we investigate whether electrical stimulation of parietal cortex can attenuate knee joint inflammation in non-anesthetized rats. Our results show that cortical stimulation in rats increased sympathetic activity and improved joint inflammatory parameters, such as local neutrophil infiltration and pro-inflammatory cytokine levels, without causing behavioral disturbance, brain epileptiform activity or neural damage. In addition, we superposed the areas activated by afferent vagal or cortical stimulation to map common central structures to depict a brain immunological homunculus that can allow novel therapeutic approaches against inflammatory joint diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
Bassi, GS; Ulloa, L; Santos, VR; Del Vecchio, F; Delfino-Pereira, P; Rodrigues, GJ; Castania, JA; Cunha, FDQ; Salgado, HC; Cunha, TM; Garcia-Cairasco, N; Kanashiro, A
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