Effects of Mind-Body Interventions on the Proinflammatory Transcription Factor NF-κB

Mind-body interventions such as Tai Chi, Qigong, yoga, and meditation have been found to improve the quality of life. Recent studies have shown that these methods may affect the biological activities especially inflammation. A meta-study of 26 trials about mind-body therapies (MBTs) analyzed their effects on different circulating and genomic markers related to inflammation (Bower and Irwin 2016).

The meta-study found that the effects on the genomic markers may be especially significant. For example, the lower expression levels of inflammation-associated genes and signaling were observed, including the proinflammatory transcription factor NF-κB (Bower and Irwin 2016).

In addition, sleep disturbances are the common complaints for older adults. However, such problems are difficult to treat and often ignored. A recent randomized clinical trial analyzed the effects of mindful awareness practices (MAPs) intervention and a sleep hygiene education (SHE) program among older adults with moderate sleep disturbances (Black et al. 2015).

When compared the two groups, the study found that the MAPs group had more significant improvement in the symptoms of insomnia and depression, as well as the severity of fatigue (Black et al. 2015). In addition, the lower levels of NF-κB were observed in both groups. The study suggest that the MAPs intervention may be helpful for promoting sleep quality with better effects than the SHE intervention. The alleviation of the sleep problems may also be beneficial for promoting the quality of life.


Black DS, O’Reilly GA, Olmstead R, Breen EC, Irwin MR. Mindfulness meditation and improvement in sleep quality and daytime impairment among older adults with sleep disturbances: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Apr;175(4):494-501. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8081.

Bower JE, Irwin MR. Mind-body therapies and control of inflammatory biology: A descriptive review. Brain Behav Immun. 2016 Jan;51:1-11. doi: 10.1016/j.bbi.2015.06.012.

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