Opera music prolongs survival of heart transplants

By: Peter Morris | Posted on: 3rd October 2013

Masanori Niimi, Teikyo University, Tokyo and his colleagues have been awarded the 2013 Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine for their work showing that cardiac allografts in mice survived very much longer if the mice were exposed to La Traviata for 7 days after transplantation. Grafts survived for 26.5 days whereas in the control group the median survival time was 7 days. Similar results was found if mice were exposed to Mozart tunes but interestingly when exposed to the music of the Irish New Age singer, Enya, there was only a very modest prolongation of survival, namely 11 days. They also showed that the opera music stimulated the generation of CD4+ Treg cells.

The Ig Nobel Prize is an American parody of the Nobel Prize, and is awarded each year for unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research that makes people laugh and think. It is organised by the magazine “Annals of Improbable Research” and the awards take place at Harvard University.

This is obviously a study that provokes plenty of laughter but it also has a serious side in that the brain obviously can affect the immune response to transplanted tissue. Masanori Niimi is a transplant surgeon and immunologist who did his DPhil in the NDS in Oxford and has always been a lateral thinker. A great award!

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