Both high fat and high carbohydrate diets impair vagus nerve signaling of satiety.
Obesity remains prevalent in the US. One potential treatment is vagus nerve stimulation (VNS), which activates the sensory afferents innervating the stomach that convey stomach volume and establish satiety. However, current VNS approaches and stimulus optimization could benefit from additional understanding of the underlying neural response to stomach distension. In this study, obesity-prone Sprague Dawley rats consumed a standard, high-carbohydrate, or high-fat diet for several months, leading to diet-induced obesity in the latter two groups. Under anesthesia, the neural activity in the vagus nerve was recorded with a penetrating microelectrode array while the stomach was distended with an implanted balloon. Vagal tone during distension was compared to baseline tone prior to distension. Responses were strongly correlated with stomach distension, but the sensitivity to distension was significantly lower in animals that had been fed the nonstandard diets. The results indicate that both high fat and high carbohydrate diets impair vagus activity.