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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Effects of aging on neurogenic vasodilator responses evoked by transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation: relevance to wound healing.

We have previously shown an age-related decline in the modulation of skin vascular reactivity by sensory nerves that correlates with a decline in wound repair efficacy. This study was designed to examine the possibility that improving the functional ability of aged sensory nerves using noninvasive transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) could also accelerate tissue repair. TENS of the sciatic nerve, combined with measuring blood flow responses in the rat hind-footpad using laser Doppler flowmetry, was used to establish the vascular effects. Following TENS (using parameters 20V, 5 Hz for 1 min), similar increases in vascular responses were obtained in both young (13.2+/-0.9 cm2) and old rats (11.6+/-2.3 cm2). In contrast, capsaicin-pretreated rats showed markedly diminished responses. Sympathetic fibers did not appear to modulate these sensory nerve responses. In the second part, a thermal wound was induced (using a CO2 laser) in the interscapular region of old rats (under anesthesia). In the active treatment group, TENS was applied twice daily for the initial 5 days, and the sham group received inactive TENS. Using the healing endpoint as the time when full wound contraction occurred, the active group required 14.7+/-0.2 days for complete healing, a significant improvement over the sham group (21.8+/-0.3 days). We contend that low-frequency TENS can improve the vascular response of old rats. In addition, wound healing in aged rats can be accelerated by peripheral activation of sensory nerves at low-frequency electrical stimulation parameters.[1]


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