Norepinephrine and Serotonin are Required for Vagus Nerve Stimulation Directed Cortical Plasticity




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Academic Press Inc.


Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) paired with forelimb training drives robust, specific reorganization of movement representations in the motor cortex. This effect is hypothesized to be mediated by VNS-dependent engagement of neuromodulatory networks. VNS influences activity in the locus coeruleus (LC) and dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN), but the involvement of these neuromodulatory networks in VNS-directed plasticity is unknown. We tested the hypothesis that cortical norepinephrine and serotonin are required for VNS-dependent enhancement of motor cortex plasticity. Rats were trained on a lever pressing task emphasizing proximal forelimb use. Once proficient, all rats received a surgically implanted vagus nerve cuff and cortical injections of either immunotoxins to deplete serotonin or norepinephrine, or vehicle control. Following surgical recovery, rats received half second bursts of 0.8 mA or sham VNS after successful trials. After five days of pairing intracortical microstimulation (ICMS) was performed in the motor cortex contralateral to the trained limb. VNS paired with training more than doubled cortical representations of proximal forelimb movements. Depletion of either cortical norepinephrine or serotonin prevented this effect. The requirement of multiple neuromodulators is consistent with earlier studies showing that these neuromodulators regulate synaptic plasticity in a complimentary fashion. ©2019 Elsevier Inc.


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Monoamine, Motor cortex, Plasticity, Serotonin, Noradrenaline

National Institutes of Health R01NS094384, R01NS085167, R01NS103803; Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Biological Technologies Office (BTO) Electrical Prescriptions (ElectRx) program under the auspices of Dr. Eric Van Gieson through the Naval Information Warfare Center, Pacific Cooperative Agreement No. N66001-15-2-4057; Naval Information Warfare Center, Pacific Grant/Contract No. N66001-17-2-4011


©2019 Elsevier Inc.