Lower Calorie Diets May Slow Aging and Memory Loss

Stephen D. Ginsberg, Ph.D., Associate Professor Departments of Psychiatry and Physiology & Neuroscience New York University Langone Medical Center Center for Dementia Research Nathan Kline Institute Orangeburg, NY 10962 MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Stephen D. Ginsberg, Ph.D., Associate Professor
Departments of Psychiatry and Physiology & Neuroscience
New York University Langone Medical Center
Center for Dementia Research
Nathan Kline Institute Orangeburg, NY 10962

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Ginsberg: We tested the hypothesis that long-term calorie restriction positively alters gene expression within the hippocampus, a critical learning and memory area vulnerable in aging and Alzheimer’s disease. To test this hypothesis, we conducted experiments on female mice that were given food pellets 30% lower in calories than what was fed to the control group. The mice ate fewer calories derived from carbohydrates. Analyses were performed on mice in middle and old age to assess any differences in gene expression over time. Our data analysis revealed that the mice that were fed a lower calorie diet had fewer changes in approximately 900 genes that are linked to aging and memory.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Ginsberg: Our study shows how calorie restriction practically arrests gene expression levels involved in the aging phenotype, which may be beneficial for future drug discovery as well as dietary studies to improve the healthspan. While restrictive dietary regimens have been well-known for decades to prolong the lives of rodents and other mammals, their effects in humans have not been well understood. Benefits of these diets have been touted to include reduced risk of human heart disease, hypertension, and stroke, but the widespread genetic impact on the memory and learning regions of aging brains has not before been shown with this number of genes (>10,000) being investigated simultaneously. Although the results of this study does not mean calorie restriction is the “fountain of youth,” it does add evidence for the role of diet in delaying the effects of aging and age-related disease.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Ginsberg: The results of these findings widens the door to study more in-depth mechanisms underlying positive benefits of calorie restriction on anti-aging genetics. It is possible that a sustained and controlled reduction in calorie intake could help slow brain aging and deter chronic disease.

Citation:

Neuroscience 14 abstract discussing:
Calorie-Restricting Diets Slow Aging

The study was conducted by Marissa J Schafer, PhD, Igor Dolgalev, MS, Adriana Heguy, PhD, and Stephen D Ginsberg, PhD.