Dynamics of inflammatory cytokines after an acute yogic stretching intervention: preliminary results of a pilot study

Principal Investigator: Peter M. Wayne

Authors: Dennis Muñoz-Vergara DVM/MPH/PhD, Kristin Schreiber MD/PhD, Yehui Zhu PhD/MSN, Gloria Y. Yeh MD/MPH, Pamela Rist ScD, Peter M. Wayne PhD.
Lay Abstract

Our group conducted a pilot randomized clinical trial evaluating the feasibility and acceptability of a single yoga stretching intervention among relatively sedentary and yoga-naïve participants between 40-60 years old. Additionally, we evaluated the feasibility of taking several blood samples, one before (baseline sample) and 6 more after the intervention, to measure the changes over time in levels of different circulating molecules involved in the inflammation process. Our results indicated that it is feasible to deliver a full yogic stretching session among participants that have never practiced yoga. Furthermore, no adverse events were reported either during the intervention or during the blood sampling procedure. Also, our preliminary and exploratory analysis indicated that 7 cytokines should be further studied in future larger trials to evaluate the systemic effect of yoga on inflammation.

These results will help us to design a future fully powered study to better understand how yogic stretching interacts with the human body.

Scientific Abstract

Objective: To conduct a pilot feasibility three-arm-RCT to gather preliminary data on the impact of an acute yogic stretching intervention on the dynamics of circulating inflammatory cytokines in healthy yoga-naïve participants.

 

Methods: Participants (N=30), 40-60 years-old and relatively sedentary, were recruited (2020-2021). During visit 1, a baseline blood sample was drawn before each participant was randomized into 3-groups (intense or mild stretching, or control). Both stretching groups received a one-on-one 1-hour yogic stretching session. After the intervention, 6 blood samples were obtained at different time points (0-,30-,60-,120-,180-minutes, and 24h). Cytokines were quantified using a human antibodies panel and flow-cytometry. Analyses focused on descriptive statistics and exploratory Pearson correlations.

Results: It was feasible to recruit participants and collect and analyze blood samples; no adverse events were reported. The recruitment process took 11 months; 97% of participants completed both study visits and 88% adhered to the stretching protocol. Preliminary results identified 7 cytokines (e.g., IL-6) that were the most informative when comparing delta correlations from baseline to the first timepoint post-intervention.

 

Conclusion: It was feasible to measure the systemic effect of an acute intervention of yogic stretching on the short- term dynamics of inflammatory cytokines. Results provide valuable information for informing the future design of a fully powered study.

Clinical Implications
Since little is known about the effect of yoga among healthy individuals, in this trial, we evaluated the acute effect of yogic stretching on systemic markers of inflammation in an RCT of yoga naïve, relatively sedentary, and healthy individuals.

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