Pilot Study on the Feasibility of a Meditation Intervention to Change Telomere Length in College Students Open Access

Isgut, Monica (2015)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/pg15bf481?locale=en


Telomeres are heterochromatic nucleoprotein structures at the ends of chromosomes that protect them from end-fusion and degradation. They shorten with each cell division due to the end-replication problem, and ultimately reach a critical length at which point they are recognized as double-stranded breaks and the cell enters a state of cell-cycle arrest. Telomeres can be elongated primarily by an enzyme called telomerase, which in adult tissues is expressed mostly in stem cells. Telomere shortening is associated with cellular senescence, age-related tissue dysfunction, and the onset of morbidity and mortality in humans. In the long term, telomere length in an individual has generally been shown to shorten consistently with age, but short-term longitudinal studies show that telomere length tends to fluctuate when studied over the course of a few months or years. Psychological stress seems to be associated with shorter telomeres. This may be due to the effects of psychological stress on oxidative stress and inflammatory pathways, which in turn affect telomere length dynamics. It was of interest in this study whether meditation, which has been shown empirically to reduce psychological stress and increase telomerase activity, could have an impact on telomere length. This research examines the effects of a one-month meditation intervention on measures of psychological health and telomere length in college students, and aims to provide the basis for a more large-scale study in the future.

Table of Contents

Introduction. 1

Materials and Methods. 10

Table 1. 11

Figure 1. 12

Results. 19

Table 2. 19

Figure 2. 20

Table 3. 22

Figure 3. 23

Figure 4. 24

Figure 5. 26

Figure 6. 28

Discussion 29

Appendix A. 34

Appendix B. 35

Appendix C. 36

Appendix D. 37

Appendix E. 37

Appendix F. 38

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