The axons of the sensory, or afferent, vagus nerve transmit action potentials to the central nervous system in response to changes in the body's metabolic and physiological status. Recent advances in identifying neural circuits that regulate immune responses to infection, inflammation and injury have revealed that vagus nerve signals regulate the release of cytokines and other factors produced by macrophages. Here we record compound action potentials in the cervical vagus nerve of adult mice and reveal the specific activity that occurs following administration of the proinflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukin 1β (IL-1β). Importantly, the afferent vagus neurograms generated by TNF exposure are abolished in double knockout mice lacking TNF receptors 1 and 2 (TNF-R1/2KO), whereas IL-1β-specific neurograms are eliminated in knockout mice lacking IL-1β receptor (IL-1RKO). Conversely, TNF neurograms are preserved in IL-1RKO mice, and IL-1β neurograms are unchanged in TNF-R1/2KO mice. Analysis of the temporal dynamics and power spectral characteristics of afferent vagus neurograms for TNF and IL-1β reveals cytokine-selective signals. The nodose ganglion contains the cell bodies of the sensory neurons whose axons run through the vagus nerve. The nodose neurons express receptors for TNF and IL-1β, and we show that exposing them to TNF and IL-1β significantly stimulates their calcium uptake. Together these results indicate that afferent vagus signals in response to cytokines provide a basic model of nervous system sensing of immune responses.
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Faculty; SOM Student; Northwell Researcher; Northwell Resident
School of Medicine; Northwell Health