- A recent clinical trial investigated whether focused ultrasound neuromodulation of the spleen could activate an anti-inflammatory pathway.
- The 60-participant study used a modified diagnostic ultrasound imaging system to apply two different pulsed focused ultrasound schemes.
- Stimulation with continuously swept or pulsed focused ultrasound lowered endotoxin-induced tumor necrosis factor production for two or more hours.
Focused Ultrasound Neuromodulation of the Spleen Activates an Anti-Inflammatory Response in Humans
Based on results from preclinical experiments, researchers from Northwell Health/Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research and General Electric (GE) conducted a randomized controlled clinical trial in healthy volunteers to determine whether focused ultrasound neuromodulation of the spleen could be used to activate an anti-inflammatory pathway in humans.
The study, which enrolled 60 participants from 18 to 45 years old, used a modified diagnostic ultrasound imaging system to apply two different pulsed focused ultrasound schemes (continuously swept and stationary) to the spleen’s hilum or parenchyma. Each type of focused ultrasound was delivered to the spleen at three different energy levels for three minutes.
To assess inflammation levels, the researchers collected whole blood samples from the participants before and after the focused ultrasound treatments and measured changes in endotoxin-induced tumor necrosis factor (TNF) production.
For either splenic target and any level of ultrasound energy, the stimulation with continuously swept or pulsed focused ultrasound lowered TNF production for two or more hours. The TNF levels then returned to baseline 24 hours after treatment. Lowered TNF production is an indication of an anti-inflammatory effect.
“From diabetes and obesity to cardiovascular diseases and cancer, inflammation is a major pathogenic mechanism in many diseases,” said Stavros Zanos, MD, PhD, in the Feinstein Institute’s press release. “These first-in-human results are exciting, because they demonstrate the potential ultrasound stimulation therapy holds to treat diseases noninvasively with existing technology.”
Dr. Zanos led the trial with Sangeeta S. Chavan, PhD, at Northwell Health, and Christopher Puleo, PhD, senior principal engineer, and Jeff Ashe, MS, principal engineer in biomedical electronics at GE.
Focused ultrasound neuromodulation may be a noninvasive way to stimulate mechanosensitive ion channels in the cellular membranes. According to the publication, this is the first study to demonstrate suppression of the normal inflammatory response in humans, and it has the potential for applications across a wide variety of inflammatory disorders.
See Brain Stimulation (Open Source)
See the Feinstein Institute’s Press Release “Non-Invasive Ultrasound Stimulation of the Spleen Reduces Inflammation in Humans, New Results from a Clinical Trial.”
Stimulating Spleens with Ultrasound Hints at a Treatment for Inflammation | ScienceNews