Obesity Surgery

, Volume 19, Issue 11, pp 1581–1585 | Cite as

A Pilot Study to Evaluate the Effect of Splanchnic Nerve Stimulation on Body Composition and Food Intake in Rats

  • Xiaojun Wu
  • Leslie McLaughlin
  • J. Patrick Polk
  • Meghana Chalasani
  • Frank L. Greenway
  • Jolene ZhengEmail author
Animal Research



Systemic sympathetic stimulation with caffeine and ephedrine increased metabolic rate, reduced food intake, and improved body composition but had systemic adverse events. We hypothesize that selective sympathetic stimulation of the upper gastrointestinal tract will preserve the advantages of systemic sympathetic stimulation without its adverse events. This study evaluated the effect of splanchnic nerve stimulation on metabolic rate, food intake, and body composition.


Sixteen Sprague Dawley rats had monopolar electrodes placed on the superior common splanchnic nerve innervating the celiac ganglia. An indifferent electrode was placed subcutaneously on the back. The animals were placed on a 60% fat diet, and eight rats were stimulated for 6 weeks. The stimulation was advanced over 3 days from 0.6 mA to 3 mA. Metabolic rate and food intake were measured daily; weight change was monitored weekly, and body composition was determined by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) at the end of the study. Four of the eight animals had metabolic rate measured three times over 2-day periods at 0 mA, 1 mA, and 3 mA of stimulation in a metabolic chamber.


Except for the first week of stimulation, there was no difference in body weight between the stimulated and control groups. Cumulative food intake was less in the stimulated group (p < 0. 001). The lean-to-fat ratio was greater in the stimulated group (p < 0. 01), and the animals that received incremental stimulation showed significantly augmented metabolic rate (p < 0. 02).


Splanchnic nerve stimulation decreased food intake, increased metabolic rate, and improved body composition.


Obesity Selective sympathetic stimulation Splanchnic nerve Metabolic rate Food intake Body weight Body fat 


Disclosure of Commercial Interest

This study was funded by Leptos Biomedical Inc. and was proceeded by a US patent application by John Dobak in July 2002 and a United States Patent, Number 7,239,912, was issued in July 2007 [8].


  1. 1.
    Greenway FL, Zheng J. Electrical stimulation as a treatment for obesity and diabetes. J Diabetes Sci Technol. 2007;2:251–159.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Zheng J, DiLorenzo DJ, McLaughlin L, et al. Stimulation of sympathetic innervation in the upper gastrointestional tract as a treatment for obesity. Med Hypotheses. 2009;72:707–710.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Greenway FL. The safety and efficacy of pharmaceutical and herbal caffeine and ephedrine use as a weight loss agent. Obes Rev. 2001;2:199–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Shekelle PG, Hardy ML, et al. Efficacy and safety of ephedra and ephedrine for weight loss and athletic performance: a meta-analysis. JAMA. 2003;289:1537–45.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Cockey CD. Ephedra banned. AWHONN Lifelines. 2004;8:19–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Greenway FL, Liu Z, et al. Safety and efficacy of NT, an herbal supplement, in treating human obesity. Int J Obes (Lond). 2006;30:1737–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Allison DB, Zannolli R, et al. Weight loss increases and fat loss decreases all-cause mortality rate: results from two independent cohort studies. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 1999;23:603–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Dobak, John D. III. Electric modulation of sympathetic nervous system. 2003;9-25 US Patent 7239912.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaojun Wu
    • 1
  • Leslie McLaughlin
    • 2
  • J. Patrick Polk
    • 3
  • Meghana Chalasani
    • 3
  • Frank L. Greenway
    • 4
  • Jolene Zheng
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Pennington Biomedical Research Center-LSU SystemBaton RougeUSA
  2. 2.School of Veterinary MedicineLouisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  3. 3.Louisiana State UniversityBaton RougeUSA
  4. 4.Clinic Unit, Pennington Biomedical Research Center-LSU System and Human Ecology DepartmentLSU AgCenterBaton RougeUSA
  5. 5.Veterinary Science DepartmentLSU AgCenterBaton RougeUSA

Personalised recommendations