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Relaxation Response and Genetic Expression

Posted by medliorator on July 10, 2008

eliciting the relaxation response — a physiologic state of deep rest — influences the activation patterns of genes associated with the body’s response to stress.

Herbert Benson, MD, director emeritus of the Benson-Henry Institute and co-senior author of the PloS One report. “Now we’ve found how changing the activity of the mind can alter the way basic genetic instructions are implemented.”

The first phase compared gene expression patterns of 19 long-term practitioners of different relaxation response techniques with those of 19 individuals who had never engaged in such practices. Those control participants then went through an 8-week training program to investigate whether initiating relaxation response practice would change gene expression over time.

Both phases of the study indicated that the relaxation response alters the expression of genes involved with processes such as inflammation, programmed cell death and how the body handles free radicals

We found that no matter which particular technique is used — different forms of meditation and yoga, breath focus, or repetitive prayer — the mechanism involved is the same.

Relaxation Response Can Influence Expression Of Stress-related Genes [Science Daily]

The RR is characterized by decreased oxygen consumption, increased exhaled nitric oxide, and reduced psychological distress. It is believed to be the counterpart of the stress response that exhibits a distinct pattern of physiology and transcriptional profile. We hypothesized that RR elicitation results in characteristic gene expression changes that can be used to measure physiological responses elicited by the RR in an unbiased fashion.

We assessed whole blood transcriptional profiles in 19 healthy, long-term practitioners of daily RR practice (group M), 19 healthy controls (group N1), and 20 N1 individuals who completed 8 weeks of RR training (group N2). 2209 genes were differentially expressed in group M relative to group N1 (p<0.05) and 1561 genes in group N2 compared to group N1 (p<0.05). Importantly, 433 (p<10−10) of 2209 and 1561 differentially expressed genes were shared among long-term (M) and short-term practitioners (N2).

Genomic Counter-Stress Changes Induced by the Relaxation Response [PLos ONE]

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