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Inhal Toxicol. 2005 Apr;17(4-5):209-16.

Effects of subchronic exposures to concentrated ambient particles (CAPs) in mice. IV. Characterization of acute and chronic effects of ambient air fine particulate matter exposures on heart-rate variability.

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Department of Environmental Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, Tuxedo, New York 10987, USA.


Long-term exposure to fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) has been associated increased risk of death from cardiopulmonary diseases. Cardiac function parameters have also been affected by ambient particulate matter (PM) exposure, including heart-rate variability (HRV), a measure of autonomic function that has been recognized as a well-defined, quantitative indicator of autonomic dysfunction. However, the role of HRV in ambient PM-induced cardiovascular effect is not fully understood. In an accompanying article, we report significant decreasing patterns of heart rate (HR), body temperature, and physical activity for mice lacking apoliproprotein (ApoE-/-) over 5 mo of exposure to concentrated ambient PM (CAPs), with smaller and nonsignificant change for C57 mice. In this article, we report the effects of subchronic CAPs exposure on HRV parameters that are sensitive to cardiac sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve activity. The standard deviation of normal to normal beat intervals (SDNN) and the square root of the mean squared differences of successive RR intervals (RMSSD) in the late afternoon and overnight for the ApoE-/- mice showed a gradual increase for the first 6 wk, a decline for about 12 more wk, and a slight turn upward at the end of the study period. For C57 mice, there were no chronic effect changes of SDNN or RMSSD in the late afternoon, an a slight increase after 6 wk for the overnight period. The response patterns of ApoE-/- mice indicated a perturbation of the homeostatic function in the cardiovascular system (initial enhancement and late depression of the HRV parameters). Our results complement the findings in human panel and controlled CAPs exposure studies in demonstrating that increased levels of particle pollution are able to perturb cardiac autonomic function, which may lead to adverse cardiovascular outcomes.

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