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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2007 Apr;55(4):511-7.

Augmenting immune responses to varicella zoster virus in older adults: a randomized, controlled trial of Tai Chi.

Author information

  • 1Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, Semel Institute for Neuroscience, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA. mirwin1@ucla.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To evaluate the effects of a behavioral intervention, Tai Chi, on resting and vaccine-stimulated levels of cell-mediated immunity (CMI) to varicella zoster virus (VZV) and on health functioning in older adults.

DESIGN:

A prospective, randomized, controlled trial with allocation to two arms (Tai Chi and health education) for 25 weeks. After 16 weeks of intervention, subjects were vaccinated with VARIVAX, the live attenuated Oka/Merck VZV vaccine licensed to prevent varicella.

SETTING:

Two urban U.S. communities between 2001 and 2005.

PARTICIPANTS:

A total of 112 healthy older adults aged 59 to 86.

MEASUREMENTS:

The primary endpoint was a quantitative measure of VZV-CMI. Secondary outcomes were scores on the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36).

RESULTS:

The Tai Chi group showed higher levels of VZV-CMI than the health education group (P<.05), with a significant rate of increase (P<.001) that was nearly twice that found in the health education group. Tai Chi alone induced an increase in VZV-CMI that was comparable in magnitude with that induced by varicella vaccine, and the two were additive; Tai Chi, together with vaccine, produced a substantially higher level of VZV-CMI than vaccine alone. The Tai Chi group also showed significant improvements in SF-36 scores for physical functioning, bodily pain, vitality, and mental health (P<.05).

CONCLUSION:

Tai Chi augments resting levels of VZV-specific CMI and boosts VZV-CMI of the varicella vaccine.

PMID:
17397428
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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