Cardiac changes in epileptic baboons with high-frequency microburst VNS therapy: A pilot study

Epilepsy Res. 2019 Sep;155:106156. doi: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2019.106156. Epub 2019 Jun 12.


The epileptic baboon provides a natural model of idiopathic generalized epilepsy and sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). We sought to evaluate autonomic differences, including heart rate (HR), heart rate variability (HRV) and corrected QT-duration (QTc) between two epileptic (EB1, EB2) and one control (CB) baboon, and the autonomic effects of high-frequency (HF) microburst Vagal Nerve Stimulation (VNS) Therapy in the epileptic baboons. At baseline, EB2's HR was increased over both EB1 and CB, and EB1's HRV was decreased compared to the others. QTc-intervals were significantly prolonged in both epileptic baboons. EB1 became free of generalized tonic-clonic seizures (GTCS) with VNS therapy, whereas EB2's GTCS were reduced by a third. HR decreased in both epileptic baboons, but while HRV improved in EB1, it decreased in EB2. EB2 succumbed to SUDEP after 9 months. This pilot study demonstrates abnormalities in HR, HRV and QTc-intervals in epileptic baboons. HF VNS Therapy demonstrated different effects on HRV in the two epileptic baboons, which, in addition to persistent GTCS and elevated HR, may have contributed to SUDEP risk in EB2. Future studies are needed to establish normative values for HRV and determine variability of HR, HRV and QTc-intervals in epileptic baboons.

Keywords: Baboon; Epilepsy; Heart rate variability; High-frequency microburst VNS therapy; QT-intervals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiopathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Electroencephalography
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology*
  • Epilepsy / therapy
  • Female
  • Heart / physiopathology*
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Papio
  • Pilot Projects
  • Vagus Nerve Stimulation / methods*