Prolonged stimulation of a brainstem raphe region attenuates experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis

Pernille M. Madsen, Stephanie S. Sloley, Alberto A. Vitores, Melissa M. Carballosa-Gautam, Roberta Brambilla, Ian D. Hentall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Multiple sclerosis (MS), a neuroinflammatory disease, has few treatment options, none entirely adequate. We studied whether prolonged electrical microstimulation of a hindbrain region (the nucleus raphe magnus) can attenuate experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a murine model of MS induced by MOG35-55 injection. Eight days after symptoms emerged, a wireless electrical stimulator with an attached microelectrode was implanted cranially, and daily intermittent stimulation was begun in awake, unrestrained mice. The thoracic spinal cord was analyzed for changes in histology (on day 29) and gene expression (on day 37), with a focus on myelination and cytokine production. Controls, with inactive implants, showed a phase of disease exacerbation on days 19–25 that stimulation for >16 days eliminated. Prolonged stimulation also reduced numbers of infiltrating immune cells and increased numbers of myelinated axons. It additionally lowered genetic expression of some pro-inflammatory cytokines (interferon gamma and tumor necrosis factor) and platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha, a marker of oligodendrocyte precursors, while raising expression of myelin basic protein. Studies of restorative treatments for MS might profitably consider ways to stimulate the raphe magnus, directly or via its inputs, or to emulate its serotonergic and peptidergic output.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)395-402
Number of pages8
StatePublished - Mar 27 2017


  • cytokines
  • deep brain stimulation
  • multiple sclerosis
  • myelination
  • nucleus raphe magnus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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