What’s This Research About?

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) affects 1.3 million adults in the US. Many people are familiar with the most common symptoms of swollen and painful joints with this condition. Lesser known symptoms are system-wide comorbidities of this disease due to its dysregulation of the immune system and resultant inflammatory state. Depression is one of these accompanying symptoms that has been found to be 17% higher in RA patients. The researchers “suggested that systemic inflammation may be associated with, cause, or contribute to depressive symptoms during disorders of chronic inflammation.”

Depression is often not properly addressed in RA, yet can become a debilitating risk factor because it contributes to a lack of adherence to exercise and medication, reduced quality of life, and minimized treatment response.

The researchers primary focus in this study was to investigate the effects of a mind-body intervention such as yoga on the bio-markers in the blood signaling systemic inflammation, such as erythrocyte sedimentation rate, pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines, as well as signs of neuroplasticity (serotonin and beta endorphins), cellular health, and cellular aging (telomerase activity and telomere length). Their secondary focus was to assess yoga’s impact on the severity of depression and quality of life.

TITLE: Impact of Yoga Based Mind-Body Intervention on Systemic Inflammatory Markers and Co-Morbid Depression in Active Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial


PUBLICATION: Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience

DATE: 2019

AUTHORS : Surabhi Gautam, Madhuri Tolahunase, Uma Kumar, Rima Dada

Beck depression inventory II scale (BDI-II):  a multiple choice questionnaire reporting a self inventory of depressive symptoms with a score ranging from 0-63. 

Cytokines: A group of proteins, glycoproteins or peptides that are secreted by certain cells in the immune system. They are signaling molecules that mediate and regulate immunity, hematopoiesis (production of all of the cellular components of blood and blood plasma) and inflammation.

Disease activity score 28 erythrocyte sedimentation rate (DAS28ESR): a test where the number of swollen and tender joints are tallied along with a blood sedimentation test where the quicker the red blood cells settle is an indicator of inflammation. 

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): an autoimmune disorder in which genetic and environmental factors combine to create a chronic inflammatory state that not only affects the joints but several other systems including the skin, eyes, lungs, and heart. 

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