Meditation-Based Training Reduces Salivary CRP Levels in Foster Care Children

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A study with disadvantaged children in a foster care program has shown that participation in a meditation-based training program led to decreased salivary levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein. Since early life adversity has been linked to increased levels of inflammation and the subsequent development of physical and mental disease in adults, these results suggest that early intervention programs for disadvantaged children may be able to prevent or reduce negative health effects later in life. The study, which used the salivary C-reactive protein immunoassay kit from Salimetrics, is also significant for its demonstration of a relationship between behavior modification and levels of a salivary marker of inflammation.

A new study on the effects of meditation-based training on the health of disadvantaged children has shown that the technique can lead to reductions in the children’s levels of inflammation. (1) The non-invasive assessment of inflammation levels in the children via saliva was made possible by the salivary C-reactive protein immunoassay kit from Salimetrics.

Children who are exposed to early life adversity due to neglect, abuse, or loss of parents have increased mortality as adults, due in part to increased risk for developing medical and psychiatric conditions such as cardiovascular disease and depression. Research has demonstrated that a key factor in the development of such conditions is the presence of an inflammatory state in the body, and adults and children with a history of early life adversity have been shown to have higher levels of inflammatory activity. Researchers are therefore interested in determining whether early behavioral interventions for disadvantaged children would help reduce Inflammation levels, thereby helping to protect against or lessen the negative effects of the early life adversity.

In a previous study by the same authors that used circulating levels of the inflammatory cytokine marker interleukin-6 (IL-6), it was shown that a meditation-based program derived from Tibetan Buddhist mind training was associated with innate immune inflammatory responses to a standardized laboratory psychosocial stress task. In the present study, the researchers wanted to determine if the meditation-based training would lead to reduced inflammatory properties in children who had experienced early life adversity.

Inflammation levels in children were assessed before and after participation in training sessions for the meditation technique by measuring salivary levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), an acute phase protein commonly measured in blood as a marker of inflammation. In separate recent studies, salivary CRP was reported to have moderate correlation to plasma levels and to be able to successfully discriminate between high and low plasma CRP levels, using the established guidelines from the American Heart Association. (2,3)

This new study with the foster children found that increased numbers of practice sessions for the meditation technique led to significant reductions in the average levels of salivary CRP for the children in the experimental group, when compared to similar children who had been placed on a wait-list for the program. Although further studies with larger groups of children are needed, these preliminary results suggest that participation in the meditation training program may help to reduce the negative effects of early life adversity on inflammation.

Another significant feature of this study is the demonstration of a relationship between behavior modification and a salivary marker of inflammation. This finding adds further weight to the view that non-invasive measurements of CRP in saliva may be able to serve in certain situations as substitutes for assessments of CRP in blood. The ability to assess biomarkers without the pain and inconvenience of needles is a significant advantage for biobehavioral researchers, since it improves the willingness of subjects to participate in research studies and allows samples to be collected in a wider variety of settings without the need for a professional technician to draw the blood samples.


1.    Pace, T.W., Negi, L.T., Dodson-Lavelle, B., et al. (2012). Engagement with cognitively-based compassion training is associated with reduced salivary C-reactive protein from before to after training in foster care program adolescents. Psychoneuroendocrinology, [in press]

2.    Ouellet-Morin, I., Danese, A., Williams, B., & Arseneault, L. (2011). Validation of a high-sensitivity assay for C-reactive protein in human saliva. Brain Behav Immun, 25(4), 640-46.

3.    Out, D., Hall, R.J., Granger, D.A., et al. (2012). Assessing salivary C-reactive protein: Longitudinal associations with systemic inflammation and cardiovascular disease risk in women exposed to intimate partner violence. Brain Behav Immun, 26(4), 543-51.

About Salimetrics:

Founded in 1998, Salimetrics, LLC supports researchers, the immunodiagnostic industry, and functional testing laboratories around the world with innovative salivary immunoassay products and services. Salimetrics’ assay kits and CLIA-certified testing services measure biomarkers related to stress, behavior and development, inflammation, and immune function, including: alpha-amylase, androstenedione, blood contamination, chromogranin A, cortisol, cotinine, C-reactive protein, DHEA, DHEA-S, estradiol, estriol, estrone, IL-1b, IL-6, melatonin, progesterone, 17α-hydroxyprogesterone, secretory IgA, testosterone, and TNF-a. Salimetrics also provides salivary DNA analysis. The company is based in State College, Pennsylvania, with offices in the UK and distributors around the world. For more information, visit Salimetrics on the web at

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