Differential fiber-specific block of nerve conduction in mammalian peripheral nerves using kilohertz electrical stimulation

J Neurophysiol. 2015 Jun 1;113(10):3923-9. doi: 10.1152/jn.00529.2014. Epub 2015 Apr 15.


Kilohertz electrical stimulation (KES) has been shown to induce repeatable and reversible nerve conduction block in animal models. In this study, we characterized the ability of KES stimuli to selectively block specific components of stimulated nerve activity using in vivo preparations of the rat sciatic and vagus nerves. KES stimuli in the frequency range of 5-70 kHz and amplitudes of 0.1-3.0 mA were applied. Compound action potentials were evoked using either electrical or sensory stimulation, and block of components was assessed through direct nerve recordings and muscle force measurements. Distinct observable components of the compound action potential had unique conduction block thresholds as a function of frequency of KES. The fast component, which includes motor activity, had a monotonically increasing block threshold as a function of the KES frequency. The slow component, which includes sensory activity, showed a nonmonotonic block threshold relationship with increasing KES frequency. The distinct trends with frequency of the two components enabled selective block of one component with an appropriate choice of frequency and amplitude. These trends in threshold of the two components were similar when studying electrical stimulation and responses of the sciatic nerve, electrical stimulation and responses of the vagus nerve, and sensorimotor stimulation and responses of the sciatic nerve. This differential blocking effect of KES on specific fibers can extend the applications of KES conduction block to selective block and stimulation of neural signals for neuromodulation as well as selective control of neural circuits underlying sensorimotor function.

Keywords: compound action potential; nerve conduction block; neuromodulation; sciatic nerve; selective stimulation; vagus nerve.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Biophysics
  • Electric Stimulation / methods*
  • Nerve Block / methods*
  • Neural Conduction / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Sciatic Nerve / physiology*
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology*