Effects of negative air ions on activity of neural substrates involved in autonomic regulation in rats

Int J Biometeorol. 2008 Jul;52(6):481-9. doi: 10.1007/s00484-007-0143-2. Epub 2008 Jan 11.


The neural mechanism by which negative air ions (NAI) mediate the regulation of autonomic nervous system activity is still unknown. We examined the effects of NAI on physiological responses, such as blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), and heart rate variability (HRV) as well as neuronal activity, in the paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus (PVN), locus coeruleus (LC), nucleus ambiguus (NA), and nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS) with c-Fos immunohistochemistry in anesthetized, spontaneously breathing rats. In addition, we performed cervical vagotomy to reveal the afferent pathway involved in mediating the effects of NAI on autonomic regulation. NAI significantly decreased BP and HR, and increased HF power of the HRV spectrum. Significant decreases in c-Fos positive nuclei in the PVN and LC, and enhancement of c-Fos expression in the NA and NTS were induced by NAI. After vagotomy, these physiological and neuronal responses to NAI were not observed. These findings suggest that NAI can modulate autonomic regulation through inhibition of neuronal activity in PVN and LC as well as activation of NA neurons, and that these effects of NAI might be mediated via the vagus nerves.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Ionization*
  • Animals
  • Autonomic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Brain / physiology
  • Heart Rate
  • Male
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-fos