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Noninvasive vagus nerve stimulation in Parkinson’s disease: current status and future prospects

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Hilmar SigurdssonORCiD, Dr Rachael Raw, Heather Hunter, Professor Mark BakerORCiD, Professor John-Paul TaylorORCiD, Professor Lynn RochesterORCiD, Professor Alison Yarnall



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Introduction: Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a common progressive neurodegenerative disorder with multifactorial etiology. While dopaminergic medication is the standard therapy in PD, it provides limited symptomatic treatment and non-pharmacological interventions are currently being trialed. Areas covered: Recent pathophysiological theories of Parkinson’s suggest that aggregated α-synuclein form in the gut and spread to nuclei in the brainstem via autonomic connections. In this paper, we review the novel hypothesis that noninvasive vagus nerve stimulation (nVNS), targeting efferent and afferent vagal projections, is a promising therapeutic tool to improve gait and cognitive control and ameliorate non-motor symptoms in people with Parkinson’s. We conducted an unstructured search of the literature for any studies employing nVNS in PD as well as for studies examining the efficacy of nVNS on improving cognitive function and where nVNS has been applied to co-occurring conditions in PD. Expert opinion: Evidence of nVNS as a novel therapeutic to improve gait in PD is preliminary, but early signs indicate the possibility that nVNS may be useful to target dopa-resistant gait characteristics in early PD. The evidence for nVNS as a therapeutic tool is, however, limited and further studies are needed in both brain health and disease.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sigurdsson HP, Raw R, Hunter H, Baker MR, Taylor J-P, Rochester L, Yarnall AJ

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Expert Review of Medical Devices

Year: 2021

Volume: 18

Issue: 10

Pages: 971-984

Online publication date: 31/08/2021

Acceptance date: 16/08/2021

ISSN (print): 1743-4440

ISSN (electronic): 1745-2422

Publisher: Taylor and Francis Ltd.


DOI: 10.1080/17434440.2021.1969913