Episode 90

The Power and the Potential of the Vagus Nerve to Combat Inflammation with Prof Paul Peter Tak


September 6th, 2022

1 hr 9 mins 14 secs

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About this Episode

*This information in this podcast is intended for Healthcare Practitioners.

Professor Paul Peter Tak, a pioneering researcher and transformational innovator, joins the podcast to describe the power and potential of a little-known homeostatic pathway, known as the cholinergeric anti-inflammatory pathway (CAP). Prof Tak was a key researcher in the identification of the CAP, which is an innate and reflexive anti-inflammatory response mediated by the vagus nerve.

Learn the origins of the discovery of the CAP and Tak’s groundbreaking work that showed a loss of vagal tone precedes the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Moreover, Prof Tak’s team went on to show that electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve had a profound effect on disease activity in RA. The conversation moves to exploring how the gut, nutrition and lifestyle factors can potentially activate the CAP and help prevent or manage autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. Learn how the CAP can be an important target for combating chronic disease.

Paul Peter Tak is a business leader, academic, entrepreneur and clinician who has over 30 years’ experience in medicine as a prominent expert in Immunology, Internal Medicine, and Rheumatology. Alongside his industry career, Prof Tak has dedicated much of his life to academia and advancing our understanding in medicine. He has served as Professor of Medicine at the University of Amsterdam and holds numerous honours for his service to medicine, with a special focus on Immunology and Rheumatology.

Useful Links

Prof Paul Peter Tak's website: https://paulpetertak.com/

First description of the hypothesis that stimulation of the cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway may be used to reduce chronic inflammation:
van Maanen MA, Vervoordeldonk MJ, Tak PP. The cholinergic anti-inflammatory pathway: towards innovative treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Nat Rev Rheumatol. 2009 Apr;5(4):229-32. doi: 10.1038/nrrheum.2009.31. PMID: 19337288.

Pioneering study that found low vagal tone precedes rheumatoid arthritis.
Koopman FA, Tang MW, Vermeij J, de Hair MJ, Choi IY, Vervoordeldonk MJ, Gerlag DM, Karemaker JM, Tak PP. Autonomic Dysfunction Precedes Development of Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Prospective Cohort Study. EBioMedicine. 2016 Apr;6:231-237. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.02.029. Epub 2016 Feb 19. PMID: 27211565; PMCID: PMC4856742.

First clinical trial in patients showing the effects of stimulation of the chronic immune-mediated inflammatory disease:
Koopman FA, Chavan SS, Miljko S, Grazio S, Sokolovic S, Schuurman PR, Mehta AD, Levine YA, Faltys M, Zitnik R, Tracey KJ, Tak PP. Vagus nerve stimulation inhibits cytokine production and attenuates disease severity in rheumatoid arthritis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Jul 19;113(29):8284-9. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1605635113. Epub 2016 Jul 5. PMID: 27382171; PMCID: PMC4961187.

Interview summarising the discovery of vagal involvement in chronic inflammation
Tak PP. Interview with Paul-Peter Tak: stimulating the vagus nerve to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Bioelectronics in Medicine. 2018 Jan;1(1):17-20.