Intermittent Fasting – The Impact on Autophagy, Inflammasome, and Senescence


May 24, 2024

A recent study published in Human Nutrition & Metabolism explored the molecular effects of prolonged intermittent fasting on human health and longevity markers. The research revealed that fasting can alter the expression of genes linked to autophagy, the inflammasome, and senescence, which are all related to aging and age-related diseases.

The study recruited 25 healthy young men who intended to fast for the entire month of Ramadan from dawn to dusk. The researchers measured gene expression levels one week before Ramadan, in the middle of Ramadan, in the last days of Ramadan, and one week after Ramadan.

The study found that intermittent fasting activated autophagy, a cellular process that breaks down components within cells. Autophagy has been linked to longevity, and the researchers observed an increase in ULK1, a gene involved in autophagy, two weeks and one month after starting the fasting period. Another gene, ATG5, involved in autophagy induction, also showed a similar pattern. However, BECN1, a gene essential for autophagy, exhibited a different pattern, with an increase in expression two weeks after the start of fasting and a subsequent reduction in its levels.

The researchers also measured inflammation and senescence markers, including the inflammasome and senescence mediator p16INK4a. They found that NLRP3 and IL-1β expression increased two weeks and one month after the start of fasting, but ASC levels were lower than basal levels one month after the start of fasting, suggesting that the inflammasome was not activated. The senescence marker p16INK4a did not show statistically significant changes until the end of the observation period, but p21 levels decreased during and after fasting.

The study’s limitations include a lack of data on food intake, physical activity, and sleeping patterns, which could impact gene expression patterns. Additionally, only young males were included in the study, making the results questionable for other demographic groups. The authors emphasize the need for further research to confirm or refute their findings and to assess the levels of actual proteins rather than just gene expression levels.

Overall, the study provides valuable insights into the molecular effects of prolonged intermittent fasting on human health and longevity markers. While more research is needed to understand the complex interplay between autophagy, the inflammasome, and senescence, the findings suggest that fasting may contribute to delaying the onset of age-related diseases and promoting overall health and longevity.


Lifestyle Impact on Lifespan

Lifestyle Impact on Lifespan

A groundbreaking new study has uncovered compelling evidence that adopting a constellation of healthy lifestyle habits...