Mindfulness Stress Reduction Reduces Loneliness in Elderly

Mindfulness-based stress reduction training also reduces pro-inflammatory gene expression

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 22 (HealthDay News) -- An eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program reduces loneliness compared with a wait-list control, and also reduces pro-inflammatory gene expression in older adults, according to a study published online July 20 in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

J. David Creswell, from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and colleagues examined loneliness and loneliness-related pro-inflammatory gene expression in a cohort of 40 older adults, aged 55 to 85 years, randomized to an eight-week MBSR program or to a wait-list control group.

The researchers found that the MBSR program correlated with reduced loneliness, compared to small increases in loneliness in the control group (treatment condition × time interaction P = 0.008). There was a correlation between reported loneliness and upregulated pro-inflammatory NF-κB-related gene expression in circulating leukocytes at baseline, and this gene expression profile was downregulated in the MBSR group post-treatment. There was a trend for MBSR to reduce C-reactive protein (treatment condition × time interaction P = 0.075).

"This study provides a promising initial indication that the eight-week MBSR program may reduce perceptions of loneliness in older adults, which is a well-known risk factor for morbidity and mortality in aging populations," the authors write. "MBSR can significantly downregulate the expression of inflammation-related genes in parallel with reductions in loneliness."

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