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Development of novel microelectrode arrays for intraneural recording of autonomic neural activity
Daniel C Ursu, PhD1, Ahmad Jiman, BSc.1, Paras Patel, Ph.D1, Botttorff Elizabeth, BSc.1, Elissa Welle, BSc.2, Dongxiao Yan, Ph.D2, Aileen Ouyang, BSc.1, Hannah Parrish, BSc.1, David Ratze, BSc.1, Euisik Yoon, Ph.D1, Tim Bruns, Ph.D1, Cynthia Chestek, Ph.D.1, Paul S Cederna, MD3, John Seymour, Ph.D1 and Stephen WP Kemp, PhD1, (1)University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, (2)The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, (3)Plastic Surgery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Introduction: Vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) was first approved by the FDA to treat epilepsy in 1997. It has since been approved to treat depression, with substantial research demonstrating benefits in treating tinnitus, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. As this field of bioelectronic medicine grows, so does the demand for advanced electrical interfaces that can provide highly selective stimulation and monitoring to improve clinical therapy. Unfortunately, current cuff and intrafascicular electrodes for autonomic nerves lack spatial resolution for extracting detailed neural activity. We are developing two microneedle arrays for interfacing with small autonomic nerves such as the vagus.

Materials and Methods: We hypothesized that axon-sized needles will minimize tissue reactivity around implanted electrodes, and thus improve the recording and stimulation characteristics in both acute and chronic applications. Using a custom 3D-printed nerve hook, we implanted non-functional microneedle nerve arrays (MINA) of 24 electrodes of 140 mm length into the left cervical vagus nerve of rodents (Figure 1). Micro-CT and histomorphometry of the electrode needles were assessed at both 1 and 6 weeks post-implantation. We also implanted functional 200 mm length carbon fiber microelectrode arrays (CFMA) in rodent cervical vagus and peroneal nerves for acute recordings.

Results: MINA arrays remained intact in the vagus nerve at 1 week and adjacent at 6 weeks. We have observed neural recordings with CFMA in the vagus nerve in response to glucose infusions and KCl application on the nerve, and in the peroneal nerve due to cutaneous brushing. Development of functional MINA and chronic CFMA are on-going.

Conclusions: Both microelectrode arrays show potential for high-fidelity interfacing in the vagus nerve and other autonomic nerves across acute and chronic timeframes. These advanced neural interfaces may lead to more efficient neural stimulation therapies for targeting a broad range of autonomic nerve disorders.

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