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Table 3 Cancer patients

From: Effects of mindfulness-based interventions on biomarkers in healthy and cancer populations: a systematic review

Reference Participants Study design Interventions Controls Follow up Outcomes Findings
Carlson et al. (2003) [32] 59 Early stage
BC 49
PC 10
Open MBSR (N = 59)
8 weeks
None No TNF, IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-10, NK, NKT, B, T total, T helper, and T cytotoxic cells Although there were no significant differences in the overall number of lymphocytes or cell subsets, T cell production of IL-4 increased and IFN-γ decreased, whereas NK cell production of IL-10 decreased.
Carlson et al. (2007) [31] 59 Early stage
BC 49
PC 10
Open MBSR (N = 59)
8 weeks
None 12 months TNF, IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-10, NK, NKT, B, T total, T helper, and T cytotoxic cells, salivary cortisol, blood pressure, heart rate Immune patterns over the year indicated a continued reduction in Th1 (pro-inflammatory) cytokines.
T-cell population of TNF, IFN-γ, and IL-4 decreased substantially over the course of the year between pre- and post-intervention, and across the follow-up assessments.
Witek-Janusek et al. (2008) [38] 96 Early stage
BC 66
healthy 30
NRCT MBSR (N = 38)
8 weeks
Control (usual care)
(N = 28)
8 weeks
Healthy Control
(N = 30)
1 month IL-2, IL-6, IFN-γ, IL-4, IL-10, T, NK, T helper, and T cytotoxic cells, NK cell activity, plasma cortisol Although the non-MBSR group showed continued reduction in IFN- γ production with increased IL-4, IL-6, and IL-10 production between pre- and 1-month post-intervention, the MBSR group re-established their cytokine production levels over time.
Lengacher et al. (2012) [39] 52 Advanced stage cancer 26
caregivers 26
Open MBSR (N = 52)
6 weeks
None No salivary IL-6 (2 times/day), salivary cortisol There was a significant reduction in salivary IL-6 in all MBSR participants pre- to post-intervention (p = 0.002).
Lengacher et al. (2013) [40] 82 Early ~ advanced stage BC RCT MBSR (N = 40)
6 weeks
Control (usual care)
(N = 42)
6 weeks
No Th1: IFN-γ, Th2: IL-4, T, NK, and B cells The MBSR group had T cells more readily activated by the mitogen PHA compared to the control group (p =0.002).
The production of IFN-γ showed no significant changes between pre- and post-intervention; however, IL-4 production decreased compared to the control group.
There was an increase in the Th1/Th2 ratio in the MBSR group (p = 0.03).
Bower et al. (2015) [23] 71 Early stage BC RCT MAPs (N = 39)
6 weeks
Wait-list Control
(N = 32)
6 weeks
3 months IL-6, CRP, 19 pro-inflammatory gene transcripts, NF-κB, anti-inflammatory glucocorticoid receptor (GR), CREB family factors, Type I interferon response factors, TNF receptor type II The MAPS intervention group showed a significant decline in pro-inflammatory gene expression from baseline to post-intervention (p = 0.009).
There were no significant effects of intervention for IL-6, CRP, and TNF receptor type II.
  1. Abbreviations: BC breast cancer, CREB cAMP response element-binding protein, IFN-γ interferon gamma, IL interleukin, MAPs mindful awareness practices, MBSR mindfulness-based stress reduction, NK natural killer, NKT natural killer T, Open open trial with a pre-post trial, PC prostate cancer, PHA phytohemagglutinin, RCT randomized controlled trial, NRCT non-randomized controlled trial, Th T-helper, TNF tumour necrosis factor