Unmyelinated Peripheral Nerves Can Be Stimulated in Vitro Using Pulsed Ultrasound

Ultrasound Med Biol. 2017 Oct;43(10):2269-2283. doi: 10.1016/j.ultrasmedbio.2017.05.008. Epub 2017 Jul 14.


Appreciation for the medical and research potential of ultrasound neuromodulation is growing rapidly, with potential applications in non-invasive treatment of neurodegenerative disease and functional brain mapping spurring recent progress. However, little progress has been made in our understanding of the ultrasound-tissue interaction. The current study tackles this issue by measuring compound action potentials (CAPs) from an ex vivo crab walking leg nerve bundle and analysing the acoustic nature of successful stimuli using a passive cavitation detector (PCD). An unimpeded ultrasound path, new acoustic analysis techniques and simple biological targets are used to detect different modes of cavitation and narrow down the candidate biological effectors with high sensitivity. In the present case, the constituents of unmyelinated axonal tissue alone are found to be sufficient to generate de novo action potentials under ultrasound, the stimulation of which is significantly correlated to the presence of inertial cavitation and is never observed in its absence.

Keywords: Axons; Cavitation; In vitro; Neuromodulation; Neurostimulation; Peripheral nerves; Therapeutic ultrasound.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brachyura
  • In Vitro Techniques / methods
  • Models, Animal
  • Nerve Fibers, Unmyelinated / physiology*
  • Peripheral Nerves / physiology*
  • Ultrasonic Waves*