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Stress. 2012 Jan;15(1):97-104. doi: 10.3109/10253890.2011.592880. Epub 2011 Jul 26.

Influence of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and catechol O-methyl transferase polymorphisms on effects of meditation on plasma catecholamines and stress.

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Department of Neuropsychiatry, Seoul National University Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Meditation may show differential effects on stress and plasma catecholamines based on genetic polymorphisms in brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and catechol O-methyl transferase (COMT). Eighty adults (40 men, 40 women; mean age 26 years) who practiced meditation regularly and 57 healthy control adults (35 men, 22 women; mean age 26 years) participated. Plasma catecholamines (norepinephrine (NE), epinephrine (E), and dopamine (DA)) concentrations were measured, and a modified form of the Stress Response Inventory was administered. The results were analyzed using two-way analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) with control and meditation subjects, gene polymorphism as factors, and meditation duration as the covariate. Two-way ANCOVA showed a significant interaction between control and meditation subjects, and BDNF Val66Met polymorphism on DA/NE+DA/E (p = 0.042) and NE/E+NE/DA (p = 0.046) ratios. A significant interaction was found for control and meditation subjects with COMT Val158Met polymorphism and plasma NE concentrations (p = 0.009). Post hoc ANCOVA in the meditation group, adjusted for meditation duration, showed significantly higher plasma NE concentrations for COMT Met carriers than COMT Val/Val subjects (p = 0.025). Significant differences of stress levels were found between the control and meditation subjects in BDNF Val/Met (p < 0.001) and BDNF Met/Met (p = 0.003), whereas stress levels in the BDNF Val/Val genotype did not differ between the control and meditation groups. This is the first evidence that meditation produces different effects on plasma catecholamines according to BDNF or COMT polymorphisms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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