Short-Term, Intermittent Fasting Induces Long-Lasting Gut Health and TOR-Independent Lifespan Extension

The effects of intermittent fasting on gut health and TOR-Independent lifespan.

JUNE 4, 2018

Written by James H. Catterson, Mobina Khericha, Miranda C. Dyson, Alec J. Vincent, Rebecca Callard, Steven M. Haveron, Arjunan Rajasingam, Mumtaz Ahmad, Linda Partridge

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Intermittent fasting (IF) can improve function and health during aging in laboratory model organisms, but the mechanisms at work await elucidation. We subjected fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) to varying degrees of IF and found that just one month of a 2-day fed:5-day fasted IF regime at the beginning of adulthood was sufficient to extend lifespan. This long-lasting, beneficial effect of early IF was not due to reduced fecundity. Starvation resistance and resistance to oxidative and xenobiotic stress were increased after IF. Early-life IF also led to higher lipid content in 60-day-old flies, a potential explanation for increased longevity. Guts of flies 40 days post-IF showed a significant reduction in age-related pathologies and improved gut barrier function. Improved gut health was also associated with reduced relative bacterial abundance. Early IF thus induced profound long-term changes. Pharmacological and genetic epistasis analysis showed that IF acted independently of the TOR pathway because rapamycin and IF acted additively to extend lifespan, and global expression of a constitutively active S6K did not attenuate the IF-induced lifespan extension. We conclude that short-term IF during early life can induce long-lasting beneficial effects, with robust increase in lifespan in a TOR independent manner, probably at least in part by preserving gut health.



In summary, we have generated and optimized a reliable and robust regime of IF for lifespan extension in flies. We conclude that IF during early life can robustly increase lifespan in a TOR independent manner and likely acts by preserving gut health. Importantly, the beneficial effects of short-term IF were long lasting, indicating that even brief IF periods may have long-lasting health benefits, a phenomenon that should be subject to further investigation in mammals.