Topical neck cooling prolongs survival of rats with intra-abdominal feculent sepsis by activation of the vagus nerve

Aimee Y. Zhang, Katherine M. Marsh, Radhika Rastogi, Di Wu, Eric J. Charles, Irving L. Kron, Robert G. Sawyer, Zequan Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Global hypothermia prolongs survival in rats with intraabdominal feculent sepsis by inhibiting inflammatory responses. We hypothesized that topical neck cooling (TNC) has similar benefits. Septic shock was induced by cecal ligation and incision (CLI) in Sprague Dawley rats. Rats were randomized to sham laparotomy, control with CLI, CLI with TNC, or vagotomy at the gastroesophageal junction before CLI and TNC. Two more groups underwent peritoneal washout with and without TNC two hours after CLI. TNC significantly lowered neck skin temperature (16.7 ± 1.4 vs. 30.5 ± 0.6C, p < 0.05) while maintaining core body normothermia. TNC rats recovered from anesthesia 70 min earlier than the control (p < 0.05). Three hours following CLI, the control and vagotomy with TNC groups had significantly more splenic contraction, fewer circulating leukocytes and higher plasma IL-1β, IL-10 and TNF-α levels than TNC rats (p < 0.05). TNC prolonged survival duration after CLI by a median of four hours vs. control (p < 0.05), but no benefit was seen if vagotomy preceded TNC. Peritoneal washout alone increased survival by 3 h (9.2 (7.8–10.5) h). Survival duration increased dramatically with TNC preceding washout, to a 56% survival rate (>10 days). TNC significantly prolonged the survival of rats with severe intraabdominal sepsis by inhibiting systemic proinflammatory responses by activating vagal anti-inflammatory pathways.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number9828
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Inflammatory response
  • Intraabdominal sepsis
  • Neck cooling
  • Shock
  • Topical hypothermia
  • Vagus nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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