Electrical stimulation of a certain nerve in the ear can balance an excessive immune system response that, in some severe cases of COVID-19, can be even more damaging than the infection itself, according to a study by the Technical University of Vienna ( YOUR).
A team of researchers from the Institute of Biomedical Electronics at the TU, led by Eugenijus Kaniusas, applied vagus nerve stimulation to several COVID patients admitted to intensive care units in various hospitals in Vienna, but who did not require assisted ventilation.
When a viral infection occurs, there can be an imbalance between the body’s own inflammatory response and the healing process. In those cases, the inflammatory reaction can cause more damage than the virus itself, the researchers explain.
“Electrostimulation of the atrial vagus nerve was not only able to stop the inflammatory reaction in COVID-19 patients, but was even capable of counteracting it,” says Kaniusas in a statement published today by the TU.
This stimulation “is a safe clinical procedure and could effectively complement the treatment of critical COVID patients while preventing devastating over-inflammation”, concludes the study, published in the journal “Frontiers in Physiology”.
The vagus nerve, which extends from the brain to the torso and reaches the heart, lungs, intestines and other organs, is one of the most important nerves in the body and is responsible for controlling the heart rate, speech or sweating, among others. other functions.
“Atrial vagus nerve stimulation (aVNS for short) is used to treat chronic diseases that affect an entire organ system. Examples of this are pain therapy, but also the treatment of depression or circulatory disorders. With this therapy minimally invasive treatment, only the sensory nerve endings in the atrium are stimulated, which also triggers anti-inflammatory processes,” the Technical University of Vienna said in a
With information from EFE.