Visual Universitätsmedizin Mainz

17. Februar 2017

Breakthrough in noise research

New study of cardiology of Mainz University identifies mechanisms responsible for vessel damage resulting from aircraft noise

Aircraft noise has been shown to be associated with cardiovascular disease and is considered as a novel vascular risk factor.  In 2013, the research team of Professor Thomas Münzel has succeeded in proving that simulated night-flying noise increases the stress hormone adrenaline, reduces sleep quality and triggers a vascular damage called endothelial dysfunction. However, the molecular mechanisms of this vascular damage have not been established so far. In a newly developed animal model, the scientists have now been able to detect that aircraft noise leads to a significant increase in stress hormones, vascular dysfunction, increased oxidative stress and a marked change in the expression of genes within the vessel wall. They also decoded the enzymes responsible for vascular damage. The results of this study enable us for the first time to develop specific strategies, which may mitigate the negative consequences for the vasculature caused by noise. The study, published in the European Heart Journal, the most prestigious cardiological journal in Europe, describe the scientists as a breakthrough in (aircraft) noise research. The results were presented today at the University of Mainz.

In this new study, the effects of two different noise scenarios on vascular function were tested. In the one noise scenario, mice were exposed to aircraft noise for four days, in the other for four days with ambient noise ("white noise"). The mean sound level was identical. The working group established that, similar to the effects of nighttime aircraft noise on vascular function in healthy subjects, noise triggered endothelial dysfunction within one day of exposure, caused an increase in sensitivity to vasoconstrictor substances  and an increase in stress hormone levels with the  consequence of arterial  hypertension. The aircraft-noise induced vascular damage was caused primarily by increased formation of free radicals. The research group identified two radical-forming enzymes: nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate oxidase (NADPH oxidase) and nitric oxide synthase (NOS). Interestingly, the same noise levels with ambient noise did not have any negativ effect on the vessels within four days.

The group of Prof. Erwin Schmidt formerly from the Institute for Molecular Genetics, genetic engineering security research and consulting (Johannes Gutenberg University) analyzed the effects of noise on gene regulation within the vessels. "The focus here was on the change in the regulation of genes responsible for the regulation of vessel tension, vessel wall structure and vascular cell death," says Prof. Schmidt.

In the opinion of the research team Univ.-Prof. Dr. Thomas Münzel, Director Cardiology I at the Center for Cardiology, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Andreas Daiber, Head of Molecular Cardiology at the Center for Cardiology of University Medicine Mainz and Prof. Dr. Erwin Schmidt, the results of the presented study represent a breakthrough in noise research. "Since traditional cardiovascular risk factors lead to vascular dysfunction through almost the same mechanisms, it is likely to expect that noise exaggerates already existing cardiovascular disease," concluded the three scientists from their results.

"For the first time, it will also be possible to test to what extent cardiovascular pharmacotherapy can prevent aircraft noise-induced vascular damage. In addition, we will also examine the cardiovascular effects of road and rail noise in the near future, "says Prof. Münzel.

The study was financially supported by the Foundation Heart of Mainz  and the Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation (project: New and Neglected Cardiovascular Risk Factors).


Link to Publication:

Thomas Münzel, Andreas Daiber, Sebastian Steven, Lan P. Tran, Elisabeth Ullmann, Sabine Kossmann, Frank P. Schmidt, Matthias Oelze, Ning Xia, Huige Li, Antonio Pinto, Philipp Wild, Kai Pies, Erwin R. Schmidt, Steffen Rapp und Swenja Kröller-Schön „Effects of noise on vascular function, oxidative stress, and inflammation: mechanic insight from studies in mice“, European Heart Journal DOI 10.1093/eurheart/ehx081


The Core-Team oft the new study (from left to right): Prof. Dr. Andreas Daiber, leader of the working group for molecular cardiology, Centre for cardiology, University Medical Center Mainz, Prof. Dr. Thomas Münzel, Medical Director of the Department of Cardiology I in the Centre for cardiology, University Medical Center Mainz, Dr. Swenja Kröller-Schön, working group for molecular cardiology, Centre for cardiology, University Medical Center Mainz and Prof. Dr. Erwin Schmidt, formerly Institute for Molecular Genetics, genetic engineering security research and consulting, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz

Important: Photo is free of charge for editorial purposes as long as the source is named: Foto Peter Pulkowski

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us:

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Thomas Münzel
Zentrum für Kardiologie, Kardiologie I
Universitätsmedizin Mainz
Telefon: + 49 6131/17-7250, E-Mail:

Oliver Kreft
Corporate Communications
University Medical Center of the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Langenbeckstr. 1, 55131 Mainz
Phone + 49 6131 17-7424, E-Mail: