A causal study of the phenomenon of ultrasound neurostimulation applied to an in vivo invertebrate nervous model

Abstract : Focused ultrasound are considered to be a promising tool for the treatment of neurological conditions, overcoming the limitations of current neurostimulation techniques in terms of spatial resolution and invasiveness. Much evidence to support the feasibility of ultrasound activation of neurons at the systemic level has already been provided, but to this day, the biophysical mechanisms underlying ultrasound neurostimulation are still widely unknown. In order to be able to establish a clear and robust causality between acoustic parameters of the excitation and neurobiological characteristics of the response, it is necessary to work at the cellular level, or alternatively on very simple animal models. The study reported here responds to three objectives. Firstly, to propose a simple nervous model for the study of the ultrasound neurostimulation phenomenon, associated with a clear and simple experimental protocol. Secondly, to compare the characteristics of this model’s nervous response to ultrasound neurostimulation with its nervous response to mechanical and electrical stimulation. Thirdly, to study the role played by certain acoustic parameters in the success rate of the phenomenon of ultrasound stimulation. The feasibility of generating action potentials (APs) in the giant axons of an earthworm’s ventral nerve cord, using pulsed ultrasound stimuli (f = 1.1 MHz, Ncycles = 175–1150, PRF = 25–125 Hz, Npulses = 20, PA = 2.5–7.3 MPa), was demonstrated. The time of generation (TOG) of APs associated with ultrasound stimulation was found to be significantly shorter and more stable than the TOG associated with mechanical stimulation (p < 0.001). By applying a causal approach to interpret the results of this study, it was concluded that, in this model, the nervous response to focused ultrasound is initiated along the afferent neurons, in between the mechanosensors and the synaptic connections with the giant axons. Additionally, early results are provided, highlighting a trend for the success rate of ultrasound neurostimulation and number of APs triggered per response to increase with increasing pulse repetition frequency (p < 0.05 and p < 0.001, respectively), increasing pulse duration and increasing pulse amplitude.
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Jérémy Vion-Bailly, W Apoutou N'djin, Ivan Mauricio Suarez Castellanos, Jean-Louis Mestas, Alexandre Carpentier, et al.. A causal study of the phenomenon of ultrasound neurostimulation applied to an in vivo invertebrate nervous model. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2019, 9, pp.13738. ⟨10.1038/s41598-019-50147-7⟩. ⟨hal-02309650⟩

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