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Biomed Sci Instrum. 2014;50:125-31.

A pilot study on the effect of tai chi exercise on peripheral blood cytokines assoicated with nociceptive pain in healthy volunteers.

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Indiana University of Medicine, Terre Haute.



Tai chi (TC) is a gentle form of exercise having focused mindfulness associated with physical movement. Published outcomes data using the WOMAC pain score indicate that TC has an impact on the level of pain reported by individuals with arthritis. The arthritis-associated pain is generally considered to be nociceptive and influenced by peripheral sensitization associated with the actions of inflammatory mediators such as neuropeptides and cytokines. It is important to identify the biological mechanisms mediating the reported reduction in arthritic pain following the practice of TC. The objective of this study was to explore the modulatory effect of acute TC practice on cytokine levels associated with pain, such as IL-1a, IL-6, IL-12, and TNF-alpha.


This study used a pre-and post-treatment, quasi-experimental design. Plasma cytokine levels from 7 healthy TC practitioners following one-hour of TC were measured using the RayBiotech semi-quantitative inflammatory cytokine array kit.


Significant differences were observed in the plasma levels of IL-1a and IL-12 in some but not all participants following 1 hour of TC practice.


The results from this pilot study indicate that further studies exploring changes in cytokine production following TC practice to reduce pain in arthritic patients are warranted.


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