Unilateral Cervical Vagotomy Modulates Immune Cell Profiles and the Response to a Traumatic Brain Injury. Academic Article uri icon


  • TBI induces splenic B and T cell expansion that contributes to neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. The vagus nerve, the longest of the cranial nerves, is the predominant parasympathetic pathway allowing the central nervous system (CNS) control over peripheral organs, including regulation of inflammatory responses. One way this is accomplished is by vagus innervation of the celiac ganglion, from which the splenic nerve innervates the spleen. This splenic innervation enables modulation of the splenic immune response, including splenocyte selection, activation, and downstream signaling. Considering that the left and right vagus nerves have distinct courses, it is possible that they differentially influence the splenic immune response following a CNS injury. To test this possibility, immune cell subsets were profiled and quantified following either a left or a right unilateral vagotomy. Both unilateral vagotomies caused similar effects with respect to the percentage of B cells and in the decreased percentage of macrophages and T cells following vagotomy. We next tested the hypothesis that a left unilateral vagotomy would modulate the splenic immune response to a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Mice received a left cervical vagotomy or a sham vagotomy 3 days prior to a fluid percussion injury (FPI), a well-characterized mouse model of TBI that consistently elicits an immune and neuroimmune response. Flow cytometric analysis showed that vagotomy prior to FPI resulted in fewer CLIP+ B cells, and CD4+, CD25+, and CD8+ T cells. Vagotomy followed by FPI also resulted in an altered distribution of CD11bhigh and CD11blow macrophages. Thus, transduction of immune signals from the CNS to the periphery via the vagus nerve can be targeted to modulate the immune response following TBI.

published proceedings

  • Int J Mol Sci

author list (cited authors)

  • Newell-Rogers, M. K., Duong, A., Nazarali, R., Tobin, R. P., Rogers, S. K., & Shapiro, L. A.

citation count

  • 0

complete list of authors

  • Newell-Rogers, M Karen||Duong, Amanda||Nazarali, Rizwan||Tobin, Richard P||Rogers, Susannah K||Shapiro, Lee A

publication date

  • January 2022