Effects of a traditional taiji/qigong curriculum on older adults'immune response to influenza vaccine

Author: Yang Y, Verkuilen J, Rosengren KS, Mariani RA, Reed M, Grubisich SA, Woods JA, Schlagal B
Affiliation: Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana-Champaign, Ill., and Center for Taiji Studies, Champaign, Ill., USA
Conference/Journal: Med Sport Sci.
Date published: 2008
Other: Volume ID: 52 , Pages: 64-76 , Word Count: 196

Previous studies have suggested that Taiji (T'ai Chi) practice may improve immune function. The current study examined whether 5 months of moderate traditional Taiji and Qigong (TQ) practice could improve the immune response to influenza vaccine in older adults. Fifty older adults participated in this study. Baseline pre-vaccine blood samples were collected. Subjects received the 2003-2004 influenza vaccine during the 1st week of the intervention. Post-vaccine blood samples were collected 3, 6 and 20 weeks after intervention for analysis of anti-influenza hemagglutination inhibition titers. Findings indicated a significant increase in the magnitude and duration of the antibody response to influenza vaccine in TQ participants when compared to controls. There was a significant between-group difference at 3 and 20 weeks after vaccine, and at 20 weeks the TQ group had significantly higher titers compared to the pre-vaccine time point, whereas the controls did not. A higher percentage of TQ subjects also responded to the influenza A strains with a protective antibody response, but differences between groups were not statistically significant. Traditional TQ practice improves the antibody response to influenza vaccine in older adults, but further study is needed to determine whether the enhanced response is sufficient to provide definitive protection from influenza infection.
PMID: 18487887