Emerging evidence suggests music can have a profound effect on body functions. In new research on mice, researchers demonstrated that music can reduce rejection of heart transplants by influencing the immune system.
Although researchers do not understand the link between the immune system and brain function, music has been used to reduce anxiety after heart attack. Music has also been shown to reduce pain and nausea during bone marrow transplantation.
Theoretically, there is evidence that music may act via the parasympathetic nervous system, regulating bodily functions that we have no conscious control over, including digestion.
In the new study, Japanese researchers wanted to see if music could influence the survival of heart transplants in mice. They found that opera and classical music both increased the time before the transplanted organs failed, but single frequency monotones and new age music did not.
The team led by Masanori Niimi, M.D., pinpointed the source of this protection to the spleen, the site of interleukin and interferon gamma, as well as increased levels of anti-inflammatory components.
Nevertheless, the mechanism by which music aids the immune system is still not clear. Researchers say the study only looked at a limited selection of composers, so the effect of music on reducing organ rejection may not be limited to opera.
The study is published in BioMed Central’s open access Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery.
Source: BioMed Central