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Mindfulness training and systemic low-grade inflammation in stressed community adults: Evidence from two randomized controlled trials

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posted on 31.10.2019, 17:00 authored by Daniella VillalbaDaniella Villalba, Emily K. Lindsay, Anna L Marsland, Carol M. Greco, Shinzen Young, Kirk Warren BrownKirk Warren Brown, Joshua M. Smyth, Catherine P. Walsh, Katarina Gray, Brian ChinBrian Chin, J. David CreswellJ. David Creswell
Mindfulness interventions have garnered significant attention as a complementary health treatment for many physical and psychological conditions. While some research has shown that mindfulness training can decrease psychological and physiological stress responses, it remains unclear whether mindfulness training impacts inflammation—a predictor of poor health outcomes. In addition, little research has examined the active components of mindfulness that may drive health-related improvements. Here, we provide data from two 3-arm randomized controlled trials that examined the effect of mindfulness training on inflammation in stressed community adults. Specifically, we examined whether training individuals to have an accepting attitude towards present moment experiences is a key emotion regulation skill that can lead to decreases in inflammation. Both studies randomly assigned participants to one of three conditions: mindfulness training that taught both attention monitoring and acceptance skills (Monitor+Accept); mindfulness training teaching monitoring without the acceptance component (Monitor Only); or a control condition. Study 1 employed a novel 2-week smartphone-based intervention and Study 2 employed a standard 8-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) intervention. We hypothesized that Monitor+Accept training would lead to reductions in the inflammatory biomarker C-Reactive Protein (CRP) compared to Monitor Only training and control groups. Contrary to this hypothesis, we found that Monitor+Accept mindfulness training did not lead to reductions in CRP. Exploratory analyses combining study subsamples, however, suggest that both mindfulness interventions may reduce CRP in populations at risk for systemic inflammation—midlife-to-older adults and individuals with high BMI. Overall, the present studies contribute significantly to the question of whether mindfulness interventions can reduce systemic markers of low-grade inflammation.

Funding

Mechanisms of Mindfulness Training and Stress Reduction

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

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Mindfulness Meditation Training in Lonely Older Adults

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

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Biological Mechanisms of Mindfulness Training for Health

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health

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University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute

National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences

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NCCIH NIH 3R21AT008493-02S1

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Publisher Statement

This is the version of record for Villalba DK, Lindsay EK, Marsland AL, Greco CM, Young S, Brown KW, et al. (2019) Mindfulness training and systemic low-grade inflammation in stressed community adults: Evidence from two randomized controlled trials. PLoS ONE 14(7): e0219120. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0219120 © 2019 Villalba et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License This article was published open access using the Carnegie Mellon University Libraries' Article Processing Charge (APC) fund

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11/07/2019

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