The goal of this study is to investigate the role of the vagus nerve (VN) in the ultrasound (US)-induced negative chronotropic effect (deceased heart rate). One of the functions of the VN is to mediate lowering of the heart rate. A previous study showed a decrease of ~20% in the heart rate but the mechanism of the effect was not investigated. Sprague Dawley rats (n = 20) were exposed transthoracically to ultrasonic pulses at an approximate duty factor of 1% with sequentially 2.0, 2.5, and 3.0 MPa peak rarefactional pressure amplitudes (PRPAs). The ultrasonic exposure parameters herein were chosen to match those of the previous study to have confidence that an ultrasound-induced negative chronotropic effect would occur. For each of the three PRPA sequences, the pulse repetition frequency (PRF) started slightly greater than the rat's heart rate and then was decreased sequentially in 1-Hz steps every 10 s (i.e., 6, 5, and 4 Hz for a total duration of 30 s). The experiments were organized in a standard (2 × 2) factorial design with VN (cut versus intact) as one factor and US (on versus off) as another factor. VN (intact/cut) and US (on/off) groups were divided into four groups each consisting of 5 animals: 1) VN intact-US off, 2) VN intact-US on, 3) VN cut-US off, and 4) VN cut-US on. Two-way analysis of variance for repeated measures was used to compare heart rate, cardiac output, systolic volume, ejection fraction, end-diastolic volume, end-systolic volume, respiratory rate, and arterial pressure before and after ultrasound stimulation. In this study, the heart rate decreased ~4% for the non-vagotomy and vagotomy groups. The ultrasound effect was significant for heart rate (p = 0.02) and cardiac output (p = 0.005) at 3 min post US exposure; the vagotomy effect was not significant. For heart rate, the Bonferroni test showed no differences between the four groups. The vagotomy group showed similar ultrasound-induced cardiac effects compared with the non-vagotomy group, suggesting that the vagus nerve is not influenced by the ultrasound exposure procedures. The US application caused a negative chronotropic effect of the rat heart without affecting the hemodynamic conditions. The results at this point are suggestive for an alternative cardiac pacing capability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7024981
Pages (from-to)329-336
Number of pages8
JournalIEEE Transactions on Ultrasonics, Ferroelectrics, and Frequency Control
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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