Vagal nerve activity as a moderator of brain-immune relationships

Hideki Ohira, Masahiro Matsunaga, Takahiro Osumi, Seisuke Fukuyama, Jun Shinoda, Jitsuhiro Yamada, Yori Gidron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


We investigated whether vagal tone, as assessed by heart rate variability (HRV), moderates the neural correlates of immune and physiological responses to acute stress. Participants with low and high baseline HRV underwent a reversal learning task as an acute stressor. Natural killer cells, norepinephrine, and adrenocorticotropic hormone in peripheral blood changed with acute stress in the high HRV group only. Activity in the prefrontal cortex and striatum correlated with the immune and physiological indices in the high HRV group. High vagal tone may reflect more flexible top-down brain regulation of immune and physiological activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-36
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroimmunology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 15 May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Heart rate variability
  • Natural killer cells
  • Neuroimmunomodulation
  • Positron emission tomography
  • Vagus nerve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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