Potential of Electrical Neuromodulation for Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Cheng J1,2, Shen H2, Chowdhury R1, Abdi T1, Selaru F1, Chen JDZ1. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2019 Nov 29. pii: izz289. doi: 10.1093/ibd/izz289. [Epub ahead of print]


Author information

Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.

Division of Gastroenterology, Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing, China.


Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the digestive tract that is often debilitating. It affects patients' quality of life and imposes a financial burden. Despite advances in treatment with medications such as biologics, a large proportion of patients do not respond to medical therapy or develop adverse events. Therefore, alternative treatment options such as electrical neuromodulation are currently being investigated. Electrical neuromodulation, also called bioelectronic medicine, is emerging as a potential new treatment for IBD. Over the past decade, advancements have been made in electrical neuromodulation. A number of electrical neuromodulation methods, such as vagus nerve stimulation, sacral nerve stimulation, and tibial nerve stimulation, have been tested to treat IBD. A series of animal and clinical trials have been performed to evaluate efficacy with promising results. Although the exact underlying mechanisms of action for electrical neuromodulation remain to be explored, this modality is promising. Further randomized controlled trials and basic experiments are needed to investigate efficacy and clarify intrinsic mechanisms.

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