Kilohertz high-frequency alternating current blocks nerve conduction without causing nerve damage in rats

Dandan Ling, Junjie Luo, Mengying Wang, Xiaodan Cao, Xiaorui Chen, Kexin Fang, Bin Yu


Background: In recent years, 2–50 kHz high-frequency alternating current has been shown to block nerve conduction mostly based on simulation models or experiments in vitro. This study aimed to assess the nerve block effects and related parameters of kilohertz alternating current in a rat model.
Methods: High-frequency biphasic rectangular stimulus pulse was applied to rat’s sciatic nerve in vivo, and its blockade frequency and intensity was studied by recording the changes of compound muscle action potential (CMAP) amplitude and muscle states before and after stimulation. Secondly, diameter and circumference of sciatic nerve was measured at stimulating point by ultrasound. The correlation between stimulus’ frequency and the nerve’s diameter and circumference was studied. Lastly, we assessed nerve damage causing by high-frequency electrical stimulation by measuring CMAP and nerve conduction velocity (NCV) in the following day and sciatic nerve hematoxylin-eosin staining, both blocked side and contralateral side.
Results: When the current intensity was fixed, the blockade only occurred in a specific frequency range, above or below might have partial block effect. Preliminary statistical results showed that the blocking frequency of high-frequency alternating current was negatively linearly correlated with the circumference of sciatic nerve (P<0.05); HE staining of the sciatic nerve showed no axon and myelin sheath damage on blocked or opposite side, and the CMAP and NCV of the sciatic nerve remeasured in the next day were normal, indicating high-frequency electrical stimulation produced no nerve injury.
Conclusions: High-frequency alternating current stimulation can block nerve conduction without causing nerve damage, and the complete block frequency is negatively linearly correlated with the circumference of sciatic nerve.