Platinized graphene fiber electrodes uncover direct spleen-vagus communication
Neural interfacing nerve fascicles along the splenic neurovascular plexus (SNVP) is needed to better understand the spleen physiology, and for selective neuromodulation of this major organ. However, their small size and anatomical location have proven to be a significant challenge. Here, we use a reduced liquid crystalline graphene oxide (rGO) fiber coated with platinum (Pt) as a super-flexible suture-like electrode to interface multiple SNVP. The Pt-rGO fibers work as a handover knot electrodes over the small SNVP, allowing sensitive recording from four splenic nerve terminal branches (SN 1–4), to uncover differential activity and axon composition among them. Here, the asymmetric defasciculation of the SN branches is revealed by electron microscopy, and the functional compartmentalization in spleen innervation is evidenced in response to hypoxia and pharmacological modulation of mean arterial pressure. We demonstrate that electrical stimulation of cervical and sub-diaphragmatic vagus nerve (VN), evokes activity in a subset of SN terminal branches, providing evidence for a direct VN control over the spleen. This notion is supported by adenoviral tract-tracing of SN branches, revealing an unconventional direct brain-spleen projection. High-performance Pt-rGO fiber electrodes, may be used for the fine neural modulation of other small neurovascular plexus at the point of entry of major organs as a bioelectronic medical alternative.
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University of Houston