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    Abstract Autonomic nerves convey essential neural signals that regulate vital body functions. Recording clearly distinctive physiological neural signals from autonomic nerves will help develop new treatments for restoring regulatory functions. However, this is very challenging due to the small nature of autonomic nerves and the low-amplitude signals from their small axons. We developed a multi-channel, high-density, intraneural carbon fiber microelectrode array (CFMA) with ultra-small electrodes (8–9 µm in diameter, 150–250 µm in length) for recording physiological action potentials from small autonomic nerves. In this study, we inserted CFMA with up to 16 recording carbon fibers in the cervical vagus nerve of 22 isoflurane-anesthetized rats. We recorded action potentials with peak-to-peak amplitudes of 15.1–91.7 µV and signal-to-noise ratios of 2.0–8.3 on multiple carbon fibers per experiment, determined conduction velocities of some vagal signals in the afferent (0.7–4.4 m/s) and efferent (0.7–8.8 m/s) directions, and monitored firing rate changes in breathing and blood glucose modulated conditions. Overall, these experiments demonstrated that CFMA is a novel interface for in-vivo intraneural action potential recordings. This work is considerable progress towards the comprehensive understanding of physiological neural signaling in vital regulatory functions controlled by autonomic nerves. 
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  3. Abstract

    Dorsal root ganglia (DRG), which contain the somata of primary sensory neurons, have increasingly been considered as novel targets for clinical neural interfaces, both for neuroprosthetic and pain applications. Effective use of either neural recording or stimulation technologies requires an appropriate spatial position relative to the target neural element, whether axon or cell body. However, the internal three‐dimensional spatial organization of human DRG neural fibers and somata has not been quantitatively described. In this study, we analyzed 202 cross‐sectional images across the length of 31 human L4 and L5 DRG from 10 donors. We used a custom semi‐automated graphical user interface to identify the locations of neural elements in the images and normalize the output to a consistent spatial reference for direct comparison by spinal level. By applying a recursive partitioning algorithm, we found that the highest density of cell bodies at both spinal levels could be found in the inner 85% of DRG length, the outer‐most 25–30% radially, and the dorsal‐most 69–76%. While axonal density was fairly homogeneous across the DRG length, there was a distinct low density region in the outer 7–11% radially. These findings are consistent with previous qualitative reports of neural distribution in DRG. The quantitative measurements we provide will enable improved targeting of future neural interface technologies and DRG‐focused pharmaceutical therapies, and provide a rigorous anatomical description of the bridge between the central and peripheral nervous systems.

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  4. Abstract

    The bladder, stomach, intestines, heart, and lungs all move dynamically to achieve their purpose. A long‐term implantable device that can attach onto an organ, sense its movement, and deliver current to modify the organ function would be useful in many therapeutic applications. The bladder, for example, can suffer from incomplete contractions that result in urinary retention with patients requiring catheterization. Those affected may benefit from a combination of a strain sensor and electrical stimulator to better control bladder emptying. The materials and design of such a device made from thin layer carbon nanotube (CNT) and Ecoflex 00–50 are described and demonstrate its function with in vivo feline bladders. During bench‐top characterization, the resistive and capacitive sensors exhibit stability throughout 5000 stretching cycles under physiology conditions. In vivo measurements with piezoresistive devices show a high correlation between sensor resistance and volume. Stimulation driven from platinum‐silicone composite electrodes successfully induce bladder contraction. A method for reliable connection and packaging of medical grade wire to the CNT device is also presented. This work is an important step toward the translation of low‐durometer elastomers, stretchable CNT percolation, and platinum‐silicone composite, which are ideal for large‐strain bioelectric applications to sense or modulate dynamic organ states.

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