http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25207649

PLoS One. 2014 Sep 10;9(9):e105328. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105328. eCollection 2014.
Relationship between Vagal Tone, Cortisol, TNF-Alpha, Epinephrine and Negative Affects in Crohn’s Disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Author information

  • 1Grenoble Institut des Neurosciences (GIN), Centre de Recherche INSERM 836 Equipe : Stress et Interactions Neuro-Digestives (EA3744), Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France; Département de Psychologie, Université de Savoie, Chambéry, France.
  • 2Laboratoire Interuniversitaire de Psychologie: Personnalité, Cognition, Changement social (LIP/PC2S), Université de Savoie, Chambéry, France.
  • 3Laboratoire de Psychologie Sociale et Cognitive (LAPSCO, CNRS UMR6024), Université Blaise Pascal, Clermont-Ferrand, France.
  • 4Institut de Biologie, Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire de Grenoble, Grenoble, France.
  • 5Clinique Universitaire d’Hépato-Gastroentérologie, Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire de Grenoble, Grenoble, France.
  • 6Institut de Biologie, Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire de Grenoble, Grenoble, France; Laboratoire TIMC/TheREx UMR 5525, Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France.
  • 7Unité de Neurophysiologie du Stress, Institut de Recherche Biomédicale des Armées (IRBA), Brétigny-sur-Orge, France; Ecole du Val de Grâce, Paris, France.
  • 8Grenoble Institut des Neurosciences (GIN), Centre de Recherche INSERM 836 Equipe : Stress et Interactions Neuro-Digestives (EA3744), Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France; Clinique Universitaire d’Hépato-Gastroentérologie, Centre Hospitalo-Universitaire de Grenoble, Grenoble, France.

Abstract

Crohn’s disease (CD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) involve brain-gut dysfunctions where vagus nerve is an important component. The aim of this work was to study the association between vagal tone and markers of stress and inflammation in patients with CD or IBS compared to healthy subjects (controls). The study was performed in 73 subjects (26 controls, 21 CD in remission and 26 IBS patients). The day prior to the experiment, salivary cortisol was measured at 8∶00 AM and 10∶00 PM. The day of the experiment, subjects completed questionnaires for anxiety (STAI) and depressive symptoms (CES-D). After 30 min of rest, ECG was recorded for heart rate variability (HRV) analysis. Plasma cortisol, epinephrine, norepinephrine, TNF-alpha and IL-6 were measured in blood samples taken at the end of ECG recording. Compared with controls, CD and IBS patients had higher scores of state-anxiety and depressive symptomatology. A subgroup classification based on HRV-normalized high frequency band (HFnu) as a marker of vagal tone, showed that control subjects with high vagal tone had significantly lower evening salivary cortisol levels than subjects with low vagal tone. Such an effect was not observed in CD and IBS patients. Moreover, an inverse association (r = -0.48; p<0.05) was observed between the vagal tone and TNF-alpha level in CD patients exclusively. In contrast, in IBS patients, vagal tone was inversely correlated with plasma epinephrine (r = -0.39; p<0.05). No relationship was observed between vagal tone and IL-6, norepinephrine or negative affects (anxiety and depressive symptomatology) in any group. In conclusion, these data argue for an imbalance between the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis and the vagal tone in CD and IBS patients. Furthermore, they highlight the specific homeostatic link between vagal tone and TNF-alpha in CD and epinephrine in IBS and argue for the relevance of vagus nerve reinforcement interventions in those diseases.