• Vagus nerve;
  • Kindling model;
  • Temporal lobe amygdala;
  • Cat

Summary: Purpose: To analyze the effect of prolonged (daily) electrical vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) on daily amygdaloid kindling (AK) in freely moving cats.

Methods: Fifteen adult male cats were implanted in both temporal lobe amygdalae, both lateral geniculate bodies, and prefrontal cortices. A bipolar hook (5-mm separation) stainless steel electrode also was implanted in the unsectioned left vagus nerve. AK only was performed on five of the cats as a control. The remaining 10 cats were recorded under the following experimental conditions: VNS (1.2–2.0 mA, 0.5-ms pulses, 30 Hz) for 1 min along with AK (1-s train, 1-ms pulses, 60 Hz, 300–600 μA), followed by VNS alone for 1 min, four times between 11:00 a.m. and 2 p.m. At different times, VNS was arrested, and AK was continued until stage VI kindling was reached.

Results: The behavioral changes evoked by VNS were as follows: left miosis, blinking, licking, abdominal contractions, swallowing, and eventually yawning, meowing, upward gaze, and short head movements. Compulsive eating also was present with a variable latency. Outstanding polygraphic changes consisted of augmentation of eye movements and visual evoked potentials while the animal was awake and quiet, with immobility and upward gaze. An increase of the pontogeniculooccipital (PGO) wave density in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep also was noticeable. AK was completed (to stage VI) in the control animals without a vagus nerve implantation in 23.4 ± 3.7 trials. In animals with VNS, the AK was significantly delayed, remaining for a long time in the behavioral stages I-III and showing a reduction of afterdischarge duration and frequency. Stage VI was never reached despite 50 AK trials, except when the vagus nerve electrodes were accidentally broken or vagal stimulation was intentionally arrested. Under these circumstances, 24.4 ± 8.16 AK trials alone were necessary to reach stage VI of kindling.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that left, electrical VNS interferes with AK epileptogenesis. This anticonvulsant effect could be related to the increase of REM sleep.