Study Title
Modulating heart rate oscillation affects plasma amyloid beta and tau levels in younger and older adults
Scientific Reports

Jungwon Min, Jeremy Rouanet, Alessandra Cadete Martini, Kaoru Nashiro, Hyun Joo Yoo, Shai Porat, Christine Cho, Junxiang Wan, Steve W. Cole, Elizabeth Head, Daniel A. Nation, Julian F. Thayer & Mara Mather


Slow paced breathing via heart rate variability (HRV) biofeedback stimulates vagus-nerve pathways that counter noradrenergic stress and arousal pathways that can influence production and clearance of Alzheimer’s disease (AD)-related proteins. Thus, we examined whether HRV biofeedback intervention affects plasma Αβ40, Αβ42, total tau (tTau), and phosphorylated tau-181 (pTau-181) levels. We randomized healthy adults (N = 108) to use slow-paced breathing with HRV biofeedback to increase heart rate oscillations (Osc+) or to use personalized strategies with HRV biofeedback to decrease heart rate oscillations (Osc−). They practiced 20–40 min daily. Four weeks of practicing the Osc+ and Osc− conditions produced large effect size differences in change in plasma Aβ40 and Aβ42 levels. The Osc+ condition decreased plasma Αβ while the Osc− condition increased Αβ. Decreases in Αβ were associated with decreases in gene transcription indicators of β-adrenergic signaling, linking effects to the noradrenergic system. There were also opposing effects of the Osc+ and Osc− interventions on tTau for younger adults and pTau-181 for older adults. These results provide novel data supporting a causal role of autonomic activity in modulating plasma AD-related biomarkers.

March 8, 2018
View study

Share This

Related Topics


Dr. Perlmutter is one of the leading lights in medicine today, illuminating the path for solving chronic illness

Mark Hyman, MD