Biologic and emotional outcomes among older adults

Gallegos, A. M., et al. (2013). Toward Identifying the Effects of the Specific Components of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Biologic and Emotional Outcomes Among Older Adults. (Abstract). Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Feb 5. [Epub ahead of print]

Objectives: The objectives of this study were to examine the effects of specific Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) activities (yoga, sitting and informal meditation, body scan) on immune function, circulating insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 concentrations, and positive affect among older adults.

Design: The study design comprised longitudinal analyses of data from subjects in an 8-week MBSR program. Setting: The study was conducted at a University-affiliated health center.

Subjects: This study involved 100 community-dwelling older adults. Inclusion criteria were as follows: ≥65 years of age and English-speaking. Intervention: This was an 8-week MBSR program. Outcome measures: Interleukin (IL)-6 and IGF-1 levels were assayed from blood collected at postintervention assessments. Participants were immunized postintervention with keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH), and immunoglobulin (Ig)M and IgG KLH-specific antibody responses were measured prior to immunization as well as 3 weeks and 24 weeks postintervention. Participants completed a 10-item measure of positive affect at study entry and postintervention.

Results: Participants maintained weekly practice logs documenting participation in yoga, sitting meditation, informal meditation, and body scan. More practice of yoga was associated with higher post-treatment IGF-1 levels and greater improvement in positive affect from study entry to postintervention. Sitting meditation was positively associated with post-treatment IGF-1. Greater use of body scanning was associated with reduced antigen-specific IgM and IgG 3 weeks postintervention but not 24 weeks. No associations were found between MBSR activities and IL-6 levels.

Conclusions: Practice of MBSR activities, particularly yoga, could provide benefits for specific aspects of physiologic function and positive affect. Changes in adaptive immunity in older adult MBSR practitioners warrant further study.