Introduction: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) can profoundly affect quality of life and are influenced by stress and resiliency. The impact of mind-body interventions (MBIs) on IBS and IBD patients has not previously been examined.
Methods: Nineteen IBS and 29 IBD patients were enrolled in a 9-week relaxation response based mind-body group intervention (RR-MBI), focusing on elicitation of the RR and cognitive skill building. Symptom questionnaires and inflammatory markers were assessed pre- and post-intervention, and at short-term follow-up. Peripheral blood transcriptome analysis was performed to identify genomic correlates of the RR-MBI.
Results: Pain Catastrophizing Scale scores improved significantly post-intervention for IBD and at short-term follow-up for IBS and IBD. Trait Anxiety scores, IBS Quality of Life, IBS Symptom Severity Index, and IBD Questionnaire scores improved significantly post-intervention and at short-term follow-up for IBS and IBD, respectively. RR-MBI altered expression of more genes in IBD (1059 genes) than in IBS (119 genes). In IBD, reduced expression of RR-MBI response genes was most significantly linked to inflammatory response, cell growth, proliferation, and oxidative stress-related pathways. In IBS, cell cycle regulation and DNA damage related gene sets were significantly upregulated after RR-MBI. Interactive network analysis of RR-affected pathways identified TNF, AKT and NF-κB as top focus molecules in IBS, while in IBD kinases (e.g. MAPK, P38 MAPK), inflammation (e.g. VEGF-C, NF-κB) and cell cycle and proliferation (e.g. UBC, APP) related genes emerged as top focus molecules.
Conclusions: In this uncontrolled pilot study, participation in an RR-MBI was associated with improvements in disease-specific measures, trait anxiety, and pain catastrophizing in IBS and IBD patients. Moreover, observed gene expression changes suggest that NF-κB is a target focus molecule in both IBS and IBD-and that its regulation may contribute to counteracting the harmful effects of stress in both diseases. Larger, controlled studies are needed to confirm this preliminary finding.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.Gov NCT02136745.