One year of yoga improved inflammatory adipokines in adults with metabolic syndrome

By John Murphy, MDLinx
Published February 16, 2018

Key Takeaways

One year of regular yoga decreased proinflammatory adipokines and increased an anti-inflammatory adipokine in adults with metabolic syndrome and high-normal blood pressure, according to results of a study published recently in Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports.

The findings support the benefits of yoga as an effective lifestyle intervention to reduce chronic inflammation and manage metabolic syndrome, the researchers concluded.

Changes in adipokines

“Our previous study indicated that participants with metabolic syndrome showed a significant decrease in waist circumference and a decreasing trend in blood pressure with moderate effect size after 1-year of yoga intervention,” wrote senior author Parco Siu, PhD, associate professor, School of Public Health, University of Hong Kong, China, and coauthors.

For this study, Dr. Siu and colleagues selected blood samples from 97 Chinese patients from their previous study. Participants, ranging in age from 30 to 80 years, were diagnosed with metabolic syndrome and high-normal blood pressure (systolic pressure ≥ 130 mm Hg or diastolic pressure ≥ 85 mm Hg). They were randomly assigned to a yoga group (n=52) or a control group (n=45). Subjects in the yoga group participated in three 1-hour yoga sessions per week for 1 year, while those in control group were monitored monthly for their health status.

Participants’ blood samples were taken at baseline and at the end of the study period. Researchers did not identify any significant differences at the baseline assessment between the control group and the yoga group in metabolic syndrome risk factors, physical activity level, or adipokines.

At the end of the study period, results showed:

  • The yoga group significantly reduced mean waist circumference by 4%, compared to a reduction of 2% in the control group.
  • Neither systolic nor diastolic blood pressures decreased in the yoga group, compared with the control group.
  • Mean values of proinflammatory adipokines decreased in the yoga group (leptin down 26.5%, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 6.5%, and chemerin 14.3%), but increased in the control group (leptin up 9%, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 13.5%, and chemerin 21%).
  • Mean value of the anti-inflammatory adipokine adiponectin rose by 20.1% in the yoga group, compared with a decline of 15.5% in the control group.

“The progressive interaction between proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory adipokines is commonly thought to play a significant role in the developmental process of systemic metabolic abnormalities,” the researchers wrote. “Therefore, the understanding of the equilibrium and balance of adipokines (ie, pro-vs anti-inflammatory adipokines) in response to lifestyle components such as physical exercise are critically needed for the new development of regimens to combat metabolic syndrome and other metabolic disorders.”

Dr. Siu concluded: “These findings help to reveal the response of adipokines to long-term yoga exercise, which underpins the importance of regular exercise to human health.”

Nevertheless, the precise underlying mechanisms explaining how yoga causes the changes to circulatory adipokines remain unclear, the researchers added. So, further research is needed to fully understand the relationship between yoga and the adipokine profile.

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