Effects of a Taiji and Qigong intervention on the antibody response to influenza vaccine in older adults

Yang Yang, Jay Verkuilen, Karl S. Rosengren, Rachel A. Mariani, Michael Reed, Scott A. Grubisich, Jeffrey A. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies have suggested that Taiji practice may improve immune function. This study was intended to examine whether 5 months of moderate Taiji and Qigong (TQ) practice could improve the immune response to influenza vaccine in older adults. Fifty older adults (mean age 77.2 ± 1.3 years) participated in this study (TQ N = 27; wait-list control [CON] N = 23). Baseline pre-vaccine blood samples were collected. All subjects then received the 2003-2004 influenza vaccine during the first week of the intervention. Post-vaccine blood samples were collected 3, 6 and 20 weeks post-intervention for analysis of anti-influenza hemagglutination inhibition (HI) titers. We found a significant (p < 0.05) increase in the magnitude and duration of the antibody response to influenza vaccine in TQ participants when compared to CON. The vaccination resulted in a 173, 130, and 109% increase in HI titer at 3, 6, and 20 weeks post-vaccine, respectively, in the TQ group compared to 58, 54, and 10% in CON. There was a significant between group difference at 3 and 20 weeks post-vaccine and at 20 weeks the TQ group had significantly higher titers compared to the pre-vaccine time point, whereas the CON group did not. A higher percentage of TQ subjects also responded to the influenza A strains with a protective (> 40HI) antibody response (37% TQ vs. 20% CON for the H1N1 strain and 56% TQ vs. 45% CON for the H3N2 strain), but the differences between groups were not statistically significant. Traditional TQ practice improves the antibody response to influenza vaccine in older adults, but further study is needed to determine whether the enhanced response is sufficient to provide definitive protection from influenza infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-607
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Chinese Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2007


  • Aging
  • Antibody
  • Chi Kung
  • Elderly
  • Influenza
  • Qigong
  • Tai Chi
  • Tai Ji
  • Taiji

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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