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Biomarkers of Resilience in Stress Reduction for Caregivers of Alzheimer’s Patients

Abstract

Caregiving for a dementia patient is associated with increased risk of psychological and physical health problems. We investigated whether a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) training course for caregivers that closely models the MBSR curriculum originally established by the Center of Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts may improve the psychological resilience of non-professional caregivers of Alzheimer’s disease patients. Twenty adult non-professional caregivers of dementia patients participated in an 8-week MBSR training course. Caregiver stress, depression, burden, grief, and gene expression profiles of blood mononuclear cells were assessed at baseline and following MBSR. MBSR training significantly improved the psychological resilience of some of the caregivers. We identified predictive biomarkers whose expression is associated with the likelihood of caregivers to benefit from MBSR, and biomarkers whose expression is associated with MBSR psychological benefits. Our biomarker studies provide insight into the mechanisms of health benefits of MBSR and a basis for developing a personalized medicine approach for applying MBSR for promoting psychological and cognitive resilience in caregivers of dementia patients.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by discretionary funding from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai to Dr. Giulio Maria Pasinetti and by the Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Centers (GRECC) of the James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center. In addition, Dr. Pasinetti holds a Career Scientist Award in the Research and Development unit and is the Director of the Basic and Biomedical Research and Training Program, GRECC, James J. Peters Veterans Affairs Medical Center. We acknowledge that the contents of this manuscript do not represent the views of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs or the United States Government.

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Correspondence to Giulio Maria Pasinetti.

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Trial Registration: ISRCTN53169488.

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S1 Table Functional enrichment analysis of the 194 MBSR-responsive genes.

We identified 194 MBSR-responsive genes for which MBSR-mediated changes in gene expression in PBMCs are associated with the psychological benefits from MBSR training (see text). Functional analysis of the 194 MBSR-responsive genes based on information from Pathway Commons revealed gene enrichments in 96 Pathway Common (PC) pathways. Presented is the complete listing of the 96 PC enriched pathways. Shown for each of the PC pathways is the pathway name, the total pathway size, the number of MBSR-responsive genes found in the pathway, the ratio of enrichment, the p-value of enrichment (after multiple test adjustment) and specific MBSR-responsive genes (identified in gene symbols) that are found in the PC pathway (XLSX 27 kb)

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Ho, L., Bloom, P.A., Vega, J.G. et al. Biomarkers of Resilience in Stress Reduction for Caregivers of Alzheimer’s Patients. Neuromol Med 18, 177–189 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12017-016-8388-8

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Keywords

  • Family caregiver
  • Mindfulness-based stress reduction
  • Emotional distress
  • Depression
  • Dementia