Gene Expression Changes Induced by Qigong

 

What Is the Molecular Signature of Mind–Body Interventions? A Systematic Review of Gene Expression Changes Induced by Meditation and Related Practices

This systematic review of 18 studies investigated Mind-Body Interventions (MBI) and their effect on gene expression. MBIs included Qigong, yoga, breathing practices, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Tai Chi, and meditation. In regards to Qigong, it was found that practitioners who had practiced Falun Qigong for an average of 1-5 years experienced  enhanced immunity, down-regulated cellular metabolism, and delayed cell death. Also, Tai Chi was studied for its effects on inflammation and sleep deprivation in breast cancer survivors. It was compared to a Cognitive Behavioral Intervention. It was found that IL-6 was marginally reduced and TNF (pro-inflammatory cytokines) was significantly reduced after Tai Chi, indicating that it can reduce cellular inflammatory responses. Similarly, gene expression analysis found a 9% reduction in expression of 19 pro-inflammatory genes and a 3.3% increase in expression of 34 genes involved in the production of proteins that regulate anti-viral response and tumor activity in the Tai Chi group relative to CBT-I.

The results of 18 studies that used gene expression analysis in research on meditation and related MBIs have overall found downregulation of NF-κB-targeted genes, which can be understood as the reversal of the molecular signature of the effects of chronic stress and suggests that MBI practices may lead to a reduced risk of inflammation-related diseases.

What Is the Molecular Signature of Mind–Body Interventions? A Systematic Review of Gene Expression Changes Induced by Meditation and Related Practices

Ivana Buric,  Miguel Farias,  Jonathan Jong, Christopher Mee, and Inti A. Brazil

Front Immunol. 2017; 8: 670.

Abstract

There is considerable evidence for the effectiveness of mind–body interventions (MBIs) in improving mental and physical health, but the molecular mechanisms of these benefits remain poorly understood. One hypothesis is that MBIs reverse expression of genes involved in inflammatory reactions that are induced by stress. This systematic review was conducted to examine changes in gene expression that occur after MBIs and to explore how these molecular changes are related to health. We searched PubMed throughout September 2016 to look for studies that have used gene expression analysis in MBIs (i.e., mindfulness, yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, relaxation response, and breath regulation). Due to the limited quantity of studies, we included both clinical and non-clinical samples with any type of research design. Eighteen relevant studies were retrieved and analyzed. Overall, the studies indicate that these practices are associated with a downregulation of nuclear factor kappa B pathway; this is the opposite of the effects of chronic stress on gene expression and suggests that MBI practices may lead to a reduced risk of inflammation-related diseases. However, it is unclear how the effects of MBIs compare to other healthy interventions such as exercise or nutrition due to the small number of available studies. More research is required to be able to understand the effects of MBIs at the molecular level.

 

 
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