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      Vagus nerve stimulation attenuates the systemic inflammatory response to endotoxin

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          Abstract

          Vertebrates achieve internal homeostasis during infection or injury by balancing the activities of proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory pathways. Endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide), produced by all gram-negative bacteria, activates macrophages to release cytokines that are potentially lethal. The central nervous system regulates systemic inflammatory responses to endotoxin through humoral mechanisms. Activation of afferent vagus nerve fibres by endotoxin or cytokines stimulates hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal anti-inflammatory responses. However, comparatively little is known about the role of efferent vagus nerve signalling in modulating inflammation. Here, we describe a previously unrecognized, parasympathetic anti-inflammatory pathway by which the brain modulates systemic inflammatory responses to endotoxin. Acetylcholine, the principle vagal neurotransmitter, significantly attenuated the release of cytokines (tumour necrosis factor (TNF), interleukin (IL)-1beta, IL-6 and IL-18), but not the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10, in lipopolysaccharide-stimulated human macrophage cultures. Direct electrical stimulation of the peripheral vagus nerve in vivo during lethal endotoxaemia in rats inhibited TNF synthesis in liver, attenuated peak serum TNF amounts, and prevented the development of shock.

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          Most cited references 25

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          Anti-cachectin/TNF monoclonal antibodies prevent septic shock during lethal bacteraemia.

          Bacterial infection of the mammalian bloodstream can lead to overwhelming sepsis, a potentially fatal syndrome of irreversible cardiovascular collapse (shock) and critical organ failure. Cachectin, also known as tumour necrosis factor, is a macrophage-derived peptide hormone released in response to bacterial lipopolysaccharide, and it has been implicated as a principal mediator of endotoxic shock, although its function in bacterial sepsis is not known. Anaesthetized baboons were passively immunized against endogenous cachectin and subsequently infused with an LD100 dose of live Escherichia coli. Control animals (not immunized against cachectin) developed hypotension followed by lethal renal and pulmonary failure. Neutralizing monoclonal anti-cachectin antibody fragments (F(ab')2) administered to baboons only one hour before bacterial challenge protected against shock, but did not prevent critical organ failure. Complete protection against shock, vital organ dysfunction, persistent stress hormone release and death was conferred by administration of antibodies 2 h before bacterial infusion. These results indicate that cachectin is a mediator of fatal bacteraemic shock, and suggest that antibodies against cachectin offer a potential therapy of life-threatening infection.
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            Shock and tissue injury induced by recombinant human cachectin.

            Cachectin (tumor necrosis factor), a protein produced in large quantities by endotoxin-activated macrophages, has been implicated as an important mediator of the lethal effect of endotoxin. Recombinant human cachectin was infused into rats in an effort to determine whether cachectin, by itself, can elicit the derangements of host physiology caused by administration of endotoxin. When administered in quantities similar to those produced endogenously in response to endotoxin, cachectin causes hypotension, metabolic acidosis, hemoconcentration, and death within minutes to hours, as a result of respiratory arrest. Hyperglycemia and hyperkalemia were also observed after infusion. At necropsy, diffuse pulmonary inflammation and hemorrhage were apparent on gross and histopathologic examination, along with ischemic and hemorrhagic lesions of the gastrointestinal tract, and acute renal tubular necrosis. Thus, it appears that a single protein mediator (cachectin) is capable of inducing many of the deleterious effects of endotoxin.
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              Secretory products of macrophages.

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature
                Nature
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                0028-0836
                1476-4687
                May 2000
                May 2000
                : 405
                : 6785
                : 458-462
                Article
                10.1038/35013070
                10839541
                © 2000

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