Mindfulness practice predicts interleukin-6 responses to a mindfulness-based alcohol relapse prevention intervention.
J Subst Abuse Treat. 2019 Oct ;105:57-63. Epub 2019 Aug 1. PMID: 31443893
Andrew S McClintock
Chronic alcohol misuse can result in chronically elevated interleukin (IL)-6, a pro-inflammatory cytokine, in the bloodstream. Given that Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP) has been shown to reduce alcohol misuse, MBRP might also be effective in reducing IL-6 concentrations. Past research has found, however, that IL-6 does not respond consistently to mindfulness-based interventions. Building on prior studies, we examined whether between-person variability in engagement with mindfulness training (i.e., formal mindfulness practice time) is associated with between-person variability in changes in serum IL-6, using data from a randomized controlled trial evaluating MBRP for Alcohol Dependence (MBRP-A). Participants were 72 alcohol dependent adults (mean age = 43.4 years, 63.9% male, 93.1% White) who received a minimum dose (i.e., at least four sessions) of MBRP-A either at the start of the trial (n = 46) or after a 26-week delay (n = 26). IL-6 concentrations did not significantly change from pre- to post-intervention for the full sample.Nevertheless, greater mindfulness practice time was significantly associated with reduced IL-6 levels (r = -0.27). The association between practice time and IL-6 changes remained significant when controlling for intervention timing (i.e., immediate or after the 26-week delay), demographic characteristics, and changes in mindful awareness, obsessive-compulsive drinking, and depressive symptoms. The association between practice time and IL-6 changes was not significant when omitting the minimum treatment dose requirement. Overall, results suggest that the level of engagement in mindfulnesstraining may predict changes in the inflammatory pathophysiology in adults with alcohol dependence.