Vagus nerve stimulation suppresses generalized seizure activity and seizure-triggered postictal cardiac rhythm changes in rats

Physiol Res. 2009;58(3):345-350. doi: 10.33549/physiolres.931344. Epub 2008 Jul 25.


In the present study, we investigated the effects of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), a proposed treatment for patients with intractable epilepsy, on cardiac rhythm following seizures induced by pentylenetetrazole (PTZ) in Wistar rats. After a baseline recording of electroencephalogram (EEG), electrocardiogram (ECG) and blood pressure (BP), rats in the first group received a single convulsive dose of PTZ (70 mg/kg) (Group 1). In the other two groups, the Wistar rats were implanted with a cuff electrode on the left cervical vagus nerve. One day after surgery, rats in the second group were treated with VNS (Group 2), whereas rats in the third group were connected to the stimulator but did not receive VNS (Group 3). Ten minutes after VNS onset, 70 mg/kg dose of PTZ was injected. EEG, ECG and BP were continuously recorded during post-injection period. Seizure severity was scored behaviorally. Then, baseline, ictal and postictal periods were analyzed for cardiac rhythms, seizure severity and blood pressure variability. PTZ treatment induced tonic-clonic seizure activity in all animals of Group 1 and Group 3. In these groups a marked increase of mean arterial blood pressure (MABP) but a significant decrease in heart rate and PP interval fluctuations was observed at postictal period. However, in the VNS-treated group the seizure scores and cardiac parameter returned to the baseline level. Present results emphasize that VNS effectively reduces seizure severity and suppress the seizure-induced cardiac rhythm changes.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / etiology
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / physiopathology
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac / prevention & control*
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electrocardiography
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy, Tonic-Clonic / chemically induced
  • Epilepsy, Tonic-Clonic / physiopathology
  • Epilepsy, Tonic-Clonic / therapy*
  • Heart Rate*
  • Male
  • Pentylenetetrazole
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Vagus Nerve Stimulation*


  • Pentylenetetrazole