Mechanical ventilation is the standard treatment when volitional breathing is insufficient, but drawbacks include muscle atrophy, alveolar damage, and reduced mobility. Respiratory pacing is an alternative approach using electrical stimulation-induced diaphragm contraction to ventilate the lung. Oxygenation and acid–base homeostasis are maintained by matching ventilation to metabolic needs; however, current pacing technology requires manual tuning and does not respond to dynamic user-specific metabolic demand, thus requiring re-tuning of stimulation parameters as physiological changes occur. Here, we describe respiratory pacing using a closed-loop adaptive controller that can self-adjust in real-time to meet metabolic needs. The controller uses an adaptive Pattern Generator Pattern Shaper (PG/PS) architecture that autonomously generates a desired ventilatory pattern in response to dynamic changes in arterial CO2 levels and, based on a learning algorithm, modulates stimulation intensity and respiratory cycle duration to evoke this ventilatory pattern. In vivo experiments in rats with respiratory depression and in those with a paralyzed hemidiaphragm confirmed that the controller can adapt and control ventilation to ameliorate hypoventilation and restore normocapnia regardless of the cause of respiratory dysfunction. This novel closed-loop bioelectronic controller advances the state-of-art in respiratory pacing by demonstrating the ability to automatically personalize stimulation patterns and adapt to achieve adequate ventilation.
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