60-Second Science

Classical Music Slows Mice Transplant Rejection

Mice with mismatched heart transplants that were exposed to classical music had much slower rejection rates than did mice exposed to other music and sounds. Sophie Bushwick reports

Opera and classical music can relax you – and maybe your immune system, if results with mice extend to us. Because mice that got heart transplants and who listened to opera and classical music had better outcomes than those exposed to other sounds. The work is in the Journal of Cardiothoracic Surgery. [Masateru Uchiyama et al., "Auditory stimulation of opera music induced prolongation of murine cardiac allograft survival and maintained generation of regulatory CD4+CD25+ cells"]

A mismatched organ transplant typically gets rejected. After receiving mismatched heart transplants, mice spent a week hearing silence, a single-frequency tone, or one of three types of music: Verdi's La Traviata, Mozart, or the New Age artist Enya.

The strong immune response in the control mice and those who listened to single frequencies caused rejection after a week, and the Enya group lasted only a few days more. But the hearts in the Mozart group beat for 20 days and the Traviata group survived 26 days.

Perhaps classical music calms the immune system, decreasing its responsiveness – the Traviata mice had fewer white blood cells and immune-signaling molecules. Or maybe mice just prefer Verdi to Enya.

—Sophie Bushwick

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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