A pilot study on the effect of acute Tai Chi practice on peripheral blood cytokine expression in healthy volunteers

Hongtao Li, Cherie Howk, Roy W. Geib

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: Tai chi (TC) is a unique form of exercise having both mind and body components - focused mindfulness and physical movement. It is perhaps best known for its ability to prevent falls in elderly people. It is also thought to improve vitality, longevity, mental and physical health. Recent studies have demonstrated its effectiveness as an intervention for chronic diseases associated with the inflammatory process, such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. The objective of this study was to explore the modulatory effect of acute TC practice on anti-inflammatory cytokine levels in healthy volunteers. Design: This study used a pre-and post-treatment, quasi-experimental design. Blood samples were collected from 7 healthy Yang style TC practitioners before and immediately after one-hour of TC practice. Plasma cytokine levels were measured using RayBiotech semi-quantitive inflammatory cytokine array kit. To fully understand the protein array results in the plasma sample, mRNA was isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and analyzed using the SABiosciences inflammatory cytokine PCR array. Results: The result indicated a significant increase of the anti-inflammatory cytokine interleukin 13 (IL-13) in the 7 subjects' plasma after one-hour of TC practice (average increase 6.89+4.50 fold). mRNA of three subjects (Player 4, 5 and 7) passed the quality control and were analyzed. The results indicated 1.89 fold up-regulation of IL-13 mRNA from PBMC. Conclusion: The results from this pilot study combined with studies exploring the effect of TC on heart rate variability indicate that positive health effects attributed to TC practice may be linked to activation of the anti-inflammatory pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalBiomedical Sciences Instrumentation
StatePublished - Jan 1 2012


  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Cytokine
  • Immuno-modulation
  • Inflammation
  • Tai Chi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Medical Laboratory Technology

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