Variation in heart rate regulation and the effects of particle exposure in inbred mice

Clarke G. Tankersley, Alexis Bierman, Richard Rabold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Altered autonomic control of heart rate (HR) rhythm during exposure to particulate matter (PM) has been suggested in human and animal studies. Our lab has shown strain variation in HR regulation between quiescent C3H/HeJ (C3) and C57BL/6J (B6) mice: that is, C3 mice show a consistently higher HR by ∼ 80 bpm compared with B6 mice during a normal 24-h circadian cycle. In the current study, we hypothesize that the balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic control of HR during PM exposure varies between C3 and B6 mice. Radiotelemeters were implanted in C3 and B6 mice to measure HR responses and HR variability (HRV) parameters during successive 3-h exposures to filtered air (FA) or carbon black (CB, < 300 μg/m3). Exposures were repeated following administration of saline or parasympathetic (PS; atropine, 0.5 mg/kg ip) and sympathetic (S; propranolol, 1 mg/kg ip) blockade to study the autonomic regulation of HR during CB exposure. During FA exposure with saline, a significantly (p <.05) greater 3-h average HR response (bpm ± SEM) occurred in C3 compared with B6 mice (496 ± 22 vs. 427 ± 3). With PS blockade, the strain difference between C3 and B6 mice was not evident (485 ± 23 vs. 503 ± 61). With S blockade, the 3-h average HR responses for C3 mice were significantly (p <.05) reduced compared with saline (413 ± 18 vs. 392 ± 15 for B6). During CB exposure with saline, HR responses were again significantly (p < 0.05) elevated in C3 compared with B6 mice, but these HR responses were not different relative to FA exposure. With S blockade, HR was significantly (p <.05) elevated in B6 mice during CB relative to FA, but was unchanged in C3 mice. Collectively, these results suggest that strain variation in HR regulation is due to a robust PS tone evident in B6 mice and a predominant S tone in C3 mice. Furthermore, CB exposure alters HR regulation in B6 mice by modulating a withdrawal of PS tone. Finally, strain variation in HR between B6 and C3 mice in responding to acute PM exposure implies that robust genetic determinants modulate altered autonomic regulation in susceptible individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)621-629
Number of pages9
JournalInhalation Toxicology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jun 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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