Brain-clinical signatures for vagus nerve stimulation response

CNS Neurosci Ther. 2023 Mar;29(3):855-865. doi: 10.1111/cns.14021. Epub 2022 Nov 22.


Aim: Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) is a valuable treatment for drug-resistant epilepsy (DRE) without the indication of surgical resection. The clinical heterogeneity of DRE has limited the optimal indication of choice and diagnosis prediction. The study aimed to explore the correlations of brain-clinical signatures with the clinical phenotype and VNS responsiveness.

Methods: A total of 89 DRE patients, including VNS- (n = 44) and drug-treated (n = 45) patients, were retrospectively recruited. The brain-clinical signature consisted of demographic information and brain structural deformations, which were measured using deformation-based morphometry and presented as Jacobian determinant maps. The efficacy and presurgical differences between these two cohorts were compared. Then, the potential of predicting VNS response using brain-clinical signature was investigated according to the different prognosis evaluation approaches.

Results: The seizure reduction was higher in the VNS-treated group (42.50%) as compared to the drug-treated group (12.09%) (p = 0.11). Abnormal imaging representation, showing encephalomalacia (pcorrected = 0.03), was commonly observed in the VNS-treated group (p = 0.04). In the patients treated with VNS, the mild/subtle brain abnormalities indicated higher seizure frequency (p = 0.03) and worse VNS response (p = 0.04). The partial least square regression analysis showed a moderate prediction potential of brain-clinical signature for VNS response (p < 0.01). The increase in the pre-VNS seizure frequency and structural etiology could indicate a worse prognosis (higher McHugh classification).

Conclusion: The brain-clinical signature illustrated its clinical potential in predicting the VNS response, which might allow clinicians to personalize treatment decisions for DRE patients.

Keywords: brain-clinical signature; drug-resistant epilepsy; response prediction; vagus nerve stimulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy* / etiology
  • Drug Resistant Epilepsy* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seizures / etiology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vagus Nerve
  • Vagus Nerve Stimulation* / methods