November 9, 2018 -- This
past summer, Logan welcomed Roberta Sclocco, PhD, to campus for a Chiropractic
Grand Rounds presentation. Dr. Sclocco is a research fellow at Athinoula A.
Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital and
Harvard Medical School. Her presentation, titled “Transcutaneous Vagus Nerve
Stimulation Optimized Using Functional MRI” focused on the application and
integration of advanced imaging techniques and brainstem neural science. This
work is an ongoing line of research with which Norman Kettner, DC, DACBR, FICC
and Chair of Logan’s Department of Radiology is a collaborator.
introduction to Dr. Sclocco’s presentation, Dr. Kettner explained the
importance the vagus nerve plays in many major biological systems.
inflammatory reflex is a physiological mechanism through which the vagus nerve
regulates immune function, inhibits excessive proinflammatory cytokine
production and may provide a variety of biological, psychological and
behavioral health benefits addressing the elements of the biopsychosocial model,”
he said. “Vagus nerve signaling plays an important role in the regulation of
feeding behavior, gut regulation, immune network interaction, pain modulation
and metabolic homeostasis. Cholinergic signaling (inflammatory reflex) is known
to alleviate obesity-associated inflammation and metabolic derangement and
could be exploited for treatment of metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes mellitus
and other obesity-driven disorders. “
particular importance to the current opioid epidemic, vagus stimulation has
been shown to alter the pain memory process and free chronic pain patients from
conditioned pain responses.
Sclocco describes her research as a merging of the head and the heart and an
exploration of whether something useful can come out of integrating the two
modalities. This research has employed subcutaneous stimulation of the vagus
nerve (auricular branch) with 7 T fMRI to better understand the treatment and
its underlying neural mechanisms. Click here to watch the full presentation.