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Yogic meditation reverses NF-κB and IRF-related transcriptome dynamics in leukocytes of family dementia caregivers in a randomized controlled trial


Black, David S., Cole, Steve W., Irwin, Michael R., Breen, Elizabeth, St. Cyr, Natalie M., Nazarian, Nora, Khalsa, Dharma S., Lavretsky, Helen


Psychoneuroendocrinology, Volume: 38, No.: 3, Pages.: 348-355

Year of Publication



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 12min 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. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2013 APA, all rights reserved). (journal abstract)

Bibtex Citation

@article{Black_2013, doi = {10.1016/j.psyneuen.2012.06.011}, url = {}, year = 2013, month = {mar}, publisher = {Elsevier {BV}}, volume = {38}, number = {3}, pages = {348--355}, author = {David S. Black and Steve W. Cole and Michael R. Irwin and Elizabeth Breen and Natalie M. St. Cyr and Nora Nazarian and Dharma S. Khalsa and Helen Lavretsky}, title = {Yogic meditation reverses {NF}-$upkappa$B and {IRF}-related transcriptome dynamics in leukocytes of family dementia caregivers in a randomized controlled trial}, journal = {Psychoneuroendocrinology} }


caregivers, dementia, dynamics, family dementia caregivers, irfrelated transcriptome, leucocytes, leukocytes, meditation, nfb related transcriptome dynamics, transcription factors, yoga, yogic, yogic meditation

Countries of Study


Types of Dementia

Dementia (general / unspecified)

Types of Study

Randomised Controlled Trial

Type of Outcomes

Carers’ Mental Health, Quality of Life of Carer

Type of Interventions

Intervention for Carers

Carer Focussed Interventions

Wellbeing interventions (e.g. massage, physical health checks, relaxation techniques, self-care advice)