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BACKGROUND: Yoga is a popular mind-body therapy that has demonstrated beneficial effects on psychological, behavioral, and functional outcomes. However, few studies have investigated effects on inflammatory processes. This study tested the hypothesis that an Iyengar yoga intervention specifically designed for fatigued breast cancer survivors would lead to decreases in inflammation-related gene expression and circulating markers of proinflammatory cytokine activity.METHODS: Breast cancer survivors with persistent cancer-related fatigue were randomized to a 12-week Iyengar yoga intervention (n=16) or a 12-week health education control condition (n=15). Blood samples were collected at baseline, post-intervention, and at a 3-month follow-up for genome-wide transcriptional profiling and bioinformatic analyses. Plasma inflammatory markers and salivary cortisol were also assessed. RESULTS: In promoter-based bioinformatics analyses, the yoga group showed reduced activity of the pro-inflammatory transcription factor nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), increased activity of the anti-inflammatory glucocorticoid receptor, and reduced activity of cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) family transcription factors relative to controls (all ps<.05). There was also a significant intervention effect on the soluble tumor necrosis factor receptor type II (sTNF-RII), a marker of TNF activity; plasma levels of sTNF-RII remained stable in the yoga group, whereas levels of this marker increased in the health education group (p=.028). A similar, non-significant trend was observed for the interleukin 1 receptor antagonist (p=.16). No significant changes in C reactive protein (CRP), interleukin 6 (IL-6), or diurnal cortisol measures were observed. CONCLUSIONS: A 12-week restorative Iyengar yoga intervention reduced inflammation-related gene expression in breast cancer survivors with persistent fatigue. These findings suggest that a targeted yoga program may have beneficial effects on inflammatory activity in this patient population, with potential relevance for behavioral and physical health.
BACKGROUND: Although yoga and meditation have been used for stress reduction with reported improvement in inflammation, little is known about the biological mechanisms mediating such effects. The present study examined if a yogic meditation might alter the activity of inflammatory and antiviral transcription control pathways that shape immune cell gene expression.METHODS: Forty-five family dementia caregivers were randomized to either Kirtan Kriya Meditation (KKM) or Relaxing Music (RM) listening for 12 min daily for 8 weeks and 39 caregivers completed the study. Genome-wide transcriptional profiles were collected from peripheral blood leukocytes sampled at baseline and 8-week follow-up. Promoter-based bioinformatics analyses tested the hypothesis that observed transcriptional alterations were structured by reduced activity of the pro-inflammatory nuclear factor (NF)-κB family of transcription factors and increased activity of Interferon Response Factors (IRFs; i.e., reversal of patterns previously linked to stress). RESULTS: In response to KKM treatment, 68 genes were found to be differentially expressed (19 up-regulated, 49 down-regulated) after adjusting for potentially confounded differences in sex, illness burden, and BMI. Up-regulated genes included immunoglobulin-related transcripts. Down-regulated transcripts included pro-inflammatory cytokines and activation-related immediate-early genes. Transcript origin analyses identified plasmacytoid dendritic cells and B lymphocytes as the primary cellular context of these transcriptional alterations (both p<.001). Promoter-based bioinformatic analysis implicated reduced NF-κB signaling and increased activity of IRF1 in structuring those effects (both p<.05). CONCLUSION: A brief daily yogic meditation intervention may reverse the pattern of increased NF-κB-related transcription of pro-inflammatory cytokines and decreased IRF1-related transcription of innate antiviral response genes previously observed in healthy individuals confronting a significant life stressor.