Biology, Pre-Professional Physician Assistant Major
Physical and Biological Sciences Category
I, Jordan Gibson, am a senior, Biology Preprofessional Physician Assistant major. I am a member of the MSSU Honors Program, Women in Science, Wildlife Society, and Caduceus Club here at Missouri Southern. Outside of school, I work as a Missouri registered Emergency Medical Technician in a level one trauma center in Kansas City.
I intend to apply for graduate school following graduation in May in order to obtain a Master’s in Physician Assistant. With this degree, I aspire to specialize in trauma and general surgery. Over this next year, I plan to analyze and develop the research I am presenting into an article to be submitted for publication.
The vagus nerve (X cranial nerve) is the longest cranial nerve in the human body that extends from the medulla oblongata to the abdomen. It plays a fundamental role in maintaining homeostasis through its afferent and efferent pathways. Nevertheless, the vagus nerve is mainly known for its parasympathetic function. However, an apparent communication between the vagus nerve and sympathetic ganglia was described as early as 1858 by Henry Gray. Yet, only immunohistochemical analysis with Tyrosine Hydroxylase antibody, first available in 1975, was able to provide precise identification of the catecholaminergic fibers. Several authors reported variable distribution of catecholaminergic activity in the cervical and thoracic trunks of the vagus nerve ranging from 0% to 21.63% of the total cross-sectional area. There is a large discrepancy between the results of previous studies regarding the sympathetic component of the vagus nerve. Moreover, the physiological significance of the tandem of sympathetic and parasympathetic components is not well understood. The interest in understanding the morphology of the cervical trunk of the vagus nerve increased after vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) therapy was introduced to treat epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, depression, and cardiovascular conditions. The mechanism of the therapeutic effect of VNS is not well understood. Sympathetic activity within the vagus nerve may contribute to therapeutic and adverse effects associated with vagus nerve stimulation therapy. This study aims to bridge the gap between inconsistent results.