Objectives: Changes in gene expression after traditional Japanese massage therapy were investigated to clarify the mechanisms of the clinical effects of traditional Japanese massage therapy.
Design: This was a pilot experimental study.
Settings/location: The study was conducted in a laboratory at Tsukuba University of Technology.
Subjects: The subjects were 2 healthy female volunteers (58-year-old Participant A, 55-year-old Participant B).
Interventions: The intervention consisted of a 40-minute full-body massage using standard traditional Japanese massage techniques through the clothing and a 40-minute rest as a control, in which participants lie on the massage table without being massaged.
Outcome measures: Before and after an intervention, blood was taken and analyzed by microarray: (1) The number of genes whose expression was more than double after the intervention than before was examined; (2) For those genes, gene ontology analysis identified statistically significant gene ontology terms.
Results: The gene expression count in the total of 41,000 genes was 1256 genes for Participant A and 1778 for Participant B after traditional Japanese massage, and was 157 and 82 after the control, respectively. The significant gene ontology terms selected by both Participants A and B after massage were "immune response" and "immune system," whereas no gene ontology terms were selected by them in the control.
Conclusions: It is implied that traditional Japanese massage therapy may affect the immune function. Further studies with more samples are necessary.