Preventive effects of transcutaneous electrical acustimulation on ischemic stroke-induced constipation mediated via the autonomic pathway

Zhaoxiu Liu, Yebo Ge, Feng Xu, Yuemei Xu, Yanmei Liu, Feizhen Xia, Lin Lin, Jiande D.Z. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The aim of this study was to explore the preventive effect and possible mechanisms of transcutaneous electrical acustimulation (TEA) on stroke-induced constipation. A total of 86 ischemic stroke patients were randomly allocated to 2-wk TEA or sham-TEA group. Bowel dairy and Bristol Stool Form Scale were recorded daily. Constipation and dyspeptic symptom assessment was performed at the end of the 14-day treatment. Electrocardiogram was recorded for the assessment of autonomic function. The correlation between autonomic function at admission and stroke severity was assessed. The univariate and multivariate regression analyses were performed to investigate the risk factors for stroke-induced constipation. The cumulative incidence of stroke-induced constipation was 68.2% at the acute stage. Sympathetic nerve activity at admission was positively correlated with stroke severity (R = 0.47, P < 0.001). Sympathetic nerve activity and stroke severity were independent risk factors for stroke-induced constipation. TEA decreased cumulative incidence of stroke-induced constipation (42.9 vs. 68.2%, P = 0.029). TEA significantly increased frequency of bowel movements (4.5 vs. 5.5, P = 0.001) and spontaneous bowel movements (3.0 vs. 4.5, P = 0.003) per week. TEA decreased straining defecations (0.2 vs. 0, P < 0.001) and laxative use (1 vs. 0, P < 0.001). TEA improved stool consistency and patients’ quality of life (P < 0.05, resp.). TEA increased vagal activity (P < 0.001 vs. baseline) and decreased sympathetic activity (P < 0.001 vs. baseline). Ischemic stroke patients are predisposed to autonomic function imbalance. TEA was effective in the prevention of stroke-induced constipation, and the effect was possibly mediated via the autonomic function. NEW & NOTEWORTHY This study illustrated that the brain-gut dysfunction, primarily autonomic function imbalance, was correlated with the stroke-induced constipation. This was the first study to report that transcutaneous electrical acustimulation had a preventive effect on stroke-induced constipation, suggesting a potential novel therapy for bowel problem management. The effect was possibly mediated via the autonomic function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)G293-G301
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Gastrointestinal and Liver Physiology
Volume315
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 9 2018

Keywords

  • Autonomic function
  • Constipation
  • Heart rate variability
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Transcutaneous electrical acustimulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Physiology (medical)

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