Toward identifying the effects of the specific components of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on biologic and emotional outcomes among older adults

J Altern Complement Med. 2013 Oct;19(10):787-92. doi: 10.1089/acm.2012.0028. Epub 2013 Feb 5.


Objectives: The objectives of this study were to examine the effects of specific Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) activities (yoga, sitting and informal meditation, body scan) on immune function, circulating insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 concentrations, and positive affect among older adults.

Design: The study design comprised longitudinal analyses of data from subjects in an 8-week MBSR program.

Setting: The study was conducted at a University-affiliated health center.

Subjects: This study involved 100 community-dwelling older adults. Inclusion criteria were as follows: ≥65 years of age and English-speaking.

Intervention: This was an 8-week MBSR program.

Outcome measures: Interleukin (IL)-6 and IGF-1 levels were assayed from blood collected at postintervention assessments. Participants were immunized postintervention with keyhole limpet hemocyanin (KLH), and immunoglobulin (Ig)M and IgG KLH-specific antibody responses were measured prior to immunization as well as 3 weeks and 24 weeks postintervention. Participants completed a 10-item measure of positive affect at study entry and postintervention.

Results: Participants maintained weekly practice logs documenting participation in yoga, sitting meditation, informal meditation, and body scan. More practice of yoga was associated with higher post-treatment IGF-1 levels and greater improvement in positive affect from study entry to postintervention. Sitting meditation was positively associated with post-treatment IGF-1. Greater use of body scanning was associated with reduced antigen-specific IgM and IgG 3 weeks postintervention but not 24 weeks. No associations were found between MBSR activities and IL-6 levels.

Conclusions: Practice of MBSR activities, particularly yoga, could provide benefits for specific aspects of physiologic function and positive affect. Changes in adaptive immunity in older adult MBSR practitioners warrant further study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity
  • Aged
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Hemocyanins / administration & dosage
  • Hemocyanins / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G* / immunology
  • Immunoglobulin M / immunology
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Interleukin-6 / blood
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Meditation
  • Mind-Body Therapies*
  • Mindfulness
  • Stress, Psychological / immunology*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Yoga


  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Immunoglobulin M
  • Interleukin-6
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I
  • Hemocyanins
  • keyhole-limpet hemocyanin