Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Tai Chi Reverse Cellular and Genomic Markers of Inflammation in Late-Life Insomnia: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Michael R. Irwin, Richard Olmstead, Elizabeth C. Breen, Tuff Witarama, Carmen Carrillo, Nina Sadeghi, Jesusa M.G. Arevalo, Jeffrey Ma, Perry Nicassio, Richard Bootzin, Steve Cole

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background Sleep disturbance is associated with activation of systemic and cellular inflammation, as well as proinflammatory transcriptional profiles in circulating leukocytes. Whether treatments that target insomnia-related complaints might reverse these markers of inflammation in older adults with insomnia is not known. Methods In this randomized trial, 123 older adults with insomnia were randomly assigned to cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), tai chi chih (TCC), or sleep seminar education active control condition for 2-hour sessions weekly over 4 months with follow-up at 7 and 16 months. We measured C-reactive protein (CRP) at baseline and months 4 and 16; toll-like receptor-4 activated monocyte production of proinflammatory cytokines at baseline and months 2, 4, 7, and 16; and genome-wide transcriptional profiling at baseline and month 4. Results As compared with sleep seminar education active control condition, CBT-I reduced levels of CRP (months 4 and 16, ps <.05), monocyte production of proinflammatory cytokines (month 2 only, p <.05), and proinflammatory gene expression (month 4, p <.01). TCC marginally reduced CRP (month 4, p =.06) and significantly reduced monocyte production of proinflammatory cytokines (months 2, 4, 7, and 16; all ps <.05) and proinflammatory gene expression (month 4, p <.001). In CBT-I and TCC, TELiS promoter-based bioinformatics analyses indicated reduced activity of nuclear factor-κB and AP-1. Conclusions Among older adults with insomnia, CBT-I reduced systemic inflammation, TCC reduced cellular inflammatory responses, and both treatments reduced expression of genes encoding proinflammatory mediators. The findings provide an evidence-based molecular framework to understand the potential salutary effects of insomnia treatment on inflammation, with implications for inflammatory disease risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)721-729
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Volume78
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 15 2015

Keywords

  • Aging
  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Gene expression
  • Inflammation
  • Insomnia
  • Tai chi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry

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