The Effect of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on Depression, Cognition, and Immunity in Mild Cognitive Impairment: A Pilot Feasibility Study

Clin Interv Aging. 2020 Aug 12;15:1365-1381. doi: 10.2147/CIA.S249196. eCollection 2020.

Abstract

Background: Mindfulness-based programs have shown a promising effect on several health factors associated with increased risk of dementia and the conversion from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to dementia such as depression, stress, cognitive decline, immune system and brain structural and functional changes. Studies on mindfulness in MCI subjects are sparse and frequently lack control intervention groups.

Objective: To determine the feasibility and the effect of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) practice on depression, cognition and immunity in MCI compared to cognitive training.

Methods: Twenty-eight MCI subjects were randomly assigned to two groups. MBSR group underwent 8-week MBSR program. Control group underwent 8-week cognitive training. Their cognitive and immunological profiles and level of depressive symptoms were examined at baseline, after each 8-week intervention (visit 2, V2) and six months after each intervention (visit 3, V3). MBSR participants completed feasibility questionnaire at V2.

Results: Twenty MCI patients completed the study (MBSR group n=12, control group n=8). MBSR group showed significant reduction in depressive symptoms at both V2 (p=0.03) and V3 (p=0.0461) compared to the baseline. There was a minimal effect on cognition - a group comparison analysis showed better psychomotor speed in the MBSR group compared to the control group at V2 (p=0.0493) but not at V3. There was a detectable change in immunological profiles in both groups, more pronounced in the MBSR group. Participants checked only positive/neutral answers concerning the attractivity/length of MBSR intervention. More severe cognitive decline (PVLT≤36) was associated with the lower adherence to home practice.

Conclusion: MBSR is well-accepted potentially promising intervention with positive effect on cognition, depressive symptoms and immunological profile.

Keywords: MCI; anxiety; cognition; depression; monocyte activation; neurodegeneration.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / psychology
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / therapy*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mind-Body Relations, Metaphysical*
  • Mindfulness / methods*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Pilot Projects
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires