Document Type


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School of Pharmacy


Pharmaceutical Sciences


Background: Heart rate and cardiovascular function are regulated by the autonomic nervous system. Heart rate variability (HRV) as a marker reflects the activity of autonomic nervous system. The prognostic significance of HRV in cardiovascular disease has been reported in clinical and epidemiological studies. The present study focused on the influence of inhaled multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) on autonomic nervous system by HRV analysis.

Methods: Male Sprague–Dawley rats were pre-implanted with a telemetry device and kept in the individual cages for recovery. At week four after device implantation, rats were exposed to MWCNTs for 5 h at a concentration of 5 mg/m3 . The real-time EKGs were recorded by a telemetry system at pre-exposure, during exposure, 1 day and 7 days post-exposure. HRV was measured by root mean square of successive differences (RMSSD); the standard deviation of inter-beat (RR) interval (SDNN); the percentage of successive RR interval differences greater than 5 ms (pNN5) and 10 ms (pNN10); low frequency (LF) and high frequency (HF).

Results: Exposure to MWCNTs increased the percentage of differences between adjacent R-R intervals over 10 ms (pNN10) (p < 0.01), RMSSD (p < 0.01), LF (p < 0.05) and HF (p < 0.01).

Conclusions: Inhalation of MWCNTs significantly alters the balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Whether such transient alterations in autonomic nervous performance would alter cardiovascular function and raise the risk of cardiovascular events in people with pre-existing cardiovascular conditions warrants further study.

Source Citation

Zheng, W., McKinney, W., Kashon, M., Salmen, R., Castranova, V., & Kan, H. (2015). The influence of inhaled multi-walled carbon nanotubes on the autonomic nervous system. Particle and Fibre Toxicology, 13(1).


© 2016 Zheng et al. Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated



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