Autonomic Function Evaluation in an Intermittent Lead Exposure Animal Model

Liana Shvachiy, Vera Geraldes, Mafalda Carvalho, Isabel Rocha


Lead (Pb) is a toxic metal, which widespread use has resulted in environmental contamination, human exposure and significant public health problems. The autonomic nervous system, being a homeostatic controller, is impaired in acute and chronic lead exposure. In fact, sympathoexcitation associated to hypertension and tachypnea has been described together with baroreflex and chemoreflex dysfunction. However, up to date, no studies described the autonomic effects of an intermittent low-level lead exposure. In the present work, we addressed in vivo, autonomic behaviour in rats under chronic Pb exposure (control) and in rats under intermittent Pb exposure. For that, arterial blood pressure (BP) and ECG were recorded in 28 weeks old animal and low frequencies (LF) and high frequencies (HF) were determined (to estimate sympathetic and parasympathetic activities) using FisioSinal software with Wavelet module. Preliminary results: Rats intermittently exposed to lead showed a significant decrease in systolic BP (126 ± 4 vs 144 ± 3 mmHg) with no significant changes in LF, HF and LF/HF bands (1.5 ± 0.3 vs 1.7 ± 0.5 mmHg2, 1.9 ± 0.7 vs 2.8 ± 1.2 bpm2 and 1.2 ± 0.4 vs 1.1 ± 0.3 mmHg2/bpm2, respectively) when compared to chronically Pb exposed rats.
Our data suggests that the autonomic dysfunction induced by lead exposure is similar in a chronic and intermittent Pb exposure. Nevertheless, it seems that an intermittent exposure was no effect on systolic BP values.
The present study brings new insights on the environmental factors that influence autonomic and cardiovascular systems during development, which can help apprise public policy strategies to prevent and control the adverse effects of Pb toxicity.


Lead toxicity, autonomic activity, Fisiosinal, Wavelet analysis, Heart Rate Variability

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