Experimental nerve treatment restores insulin sensitivity

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An experimental treatment on a major nerve restores insulin sensitivity in rats, according to a new study.
The treatment involves electrically stimulating the carotid sinus nerve which sits next to the carotid artery, the main artery of the neck. The treatment is known as kilohertz frequency alternating current (KHFAC) modulation.
Previous research had found that the carotid sinus nerve plays a part in insulin sensitivity and that when the nerve is dysfunctional (not working properly), metabolic diseases can develop.
The researchers from the CEDOC-NOVA Medical School in Lisbon, Portugal tested the treatment on one group of rats and compared them to another group that had a sham surgery (which is not meant to work). Both groups were fed a high energy diet that was high in both fat and sugar.
The rats that had KHFAC modulation benefitted from better glucose levels, lower insulin levels and better insulin sensitivity than the control group that had the sham surgery.
After the KHFAC modulation treatment was ceased, the level of insulin resistance returned to a higher level within five weeks.
The use of electrical modulation appears to represent a step forward from previous treatments that involve ablating (destroying) parts of the carotid sinus body. The researchers note that these experiments are initially successful, but nerve regeneration occurs diminishing the long-term effects of the surgery.
Stimulating the nerve electrically could allow the benefits to be sustained over the long-term and may therefore result in a better treatment.
KHFAC modulation has been tested in humans at a low frequency. In these trials, the treatment showed evidence that it may help with achieving weight loss and resulted in no severe adverse events. The treatment may represent a hope for people who struggle very much to adhere to a healthy lifestyle.
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