Signaling the brain in systemic inflammation: Which vagal branch is involved in fever genesis?

Christopher T. Simons, Vladimir A. Kulchitsky, Naotoshi Sugimoto, Louis D. Homer, Miklos Székely, Andrej A. Romanovsky

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103 Citations (Scopus)


Recent evidence has suggested a role of abdominal vagal afferents in the pathogenesis of the febrile response. The abdominal vagus consists of five main branches (viz., the anterior and posterior celiac branches, anterior and posterior gastric branches, and hepatic branch). The branch responsible for transducing a pyrogenic signal from the periphery to the brain has not as yet been identified. In the present study, we address this issue by testing the febrile responsiveness of male Wistar rats subjected to one of four selective vagotomies: celiac (CBV), gastric (GBV), hepatic (HBV), or sham (SV). In the case of CBV, GBV, and HBV, only the particular vagal branch(es) was cut; for SV, all branches were left intact. After the postsurgical recovery (26-29 days), the rats had a catheter implanted into the jugular vein. On days 29- 32, their colonic temperature (T(c)) responses to a low dose (1 μg/kg) of Escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) were studied. Three days later, the animals were subjected to a 24-h food and water deprivation, and the effectiveness of the four vagotomies to induce gastric food retention, pancreatic hypertrophy, and impairment of the portorenal osmotic reflex was assessed by weighing the stomach and pancreas and measuring the specific gravity of bladder urine, respectively. Stomach mass, pancreas mass, and urine density successfully separated the four experimental groups into four distinct clusters, thus confirming that each type of vagotomy had a different effect on the indexes measured. The T(c) responses of SV, CBV, and GBV rats to LPS did not differ and were characterized by a latency of ~40 min and a maximal rise of 0.7 ±0.1,0.6 ±0.1, and 0.9 ±0.2°C, respectively. The fever response of the HBV rats was different; practically no T(c) rise occurred (0.1 ±0.2°C). The HBV appeared to be the only selective abdominal vagotomy affecting the febrile responsiveness. We conclude, therefore, that the hepatic vagus plays an important role in the transduction of a pyrogenic signal from the periphery to the brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R63-R68
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number1 44-1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 1 1998



  • Febrile response
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Liver
  • Neuroimmunomodulation
  • Rats
  • Selective vagotomy
  • Temperature regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

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