News Release 

Intermittent fasting in mice effective at promoting long term memory retention

Intermittent fasting in mice demonstrably more effective at promoting long term memory retention

King's College London

Research News

A new study from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience (IoPPN) at King's College London has established that Intermittent Fasting (IF) is an effective means of improving long term memory retention and generating new adult hippocampal neurons in mice, in what the researchers hope has the potential to slow the advance of cognitive decline in older people.

The study, published today in Molecular Biology, found that a calorie restricted diet via every other day fasting was an effective means of promoting Klotho gene expression in mice. Klotho, which is often referred to as the "longevity gene" has now been shown in this study to play a central role in the production of hippocampal adult-born new neurons or neurogenesis.

Adult-born hippocampal neurons are important for memory formation and their production declines with age, explaining in part cognitive decline in older people.

The researchers split female mice into three groups; a control group that received a standard diet of daily feeding, a daily Calorie Restricted (CR) diet, and Intermittent Fasting (IF) in which the mice were fed every other day. The latter two groups were fed 10% less calories than the control.

Over the course of three months, the mice in the IF group demonstrated improved long-term memory retention compared to the other groups. When the brains of these mice were studied, it was apparent that the Klotho gene was upregulated, and neurogenesis increased compared to those that were on the CR diet.

Dr Sandrine Thuret from King's IoPPN said "We now have a significantly greater understanding as to the reasons why intermittent fasting is an effective means of increasing adult neurogenesis. Our results demonstrate that Klotho is not only required, but plays a central role in adult neurogenesis, and suggests that IF is an effective means of improving long-term memory retention in humans."

Dr Thuret's previous work has demonstrated that calorie restricted diets in humans can improve memory function. That research showed that IF can enhance learning processes and could affect age associated cognitive impairment.

Dr Gisele Pereira Dias from King's IoPPN said "In demonstrating that IF is a more effective means of improving long term memory than other calorie-controlled diets, we've given ourselves an excellent means of going forwards. To see such significant improvements by lowering the total calorie intake by only 10% shows that there is a lot of promise."

The researchers now hope to recreate this study with human participants in order to further explore the effects of IF.

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This study was made possible thanks to funding the Medical Research Council (UK), the Psychiatry Research Trust, and the AHA-Allen Initiative in Brain Health and Cognitive Impairment.

For further information or an embargoed copy of the paper please contact Patrick O'Brien, Senior Press Officer: Patrick.1.obrien@kcl.ac.uk / 07813706151

Intermittent fasting enhances long-term memory consolidation, adult hippocampal neurogenesis, and expression of longevity gene Klotho (DOI 10.1038/s41380-021-01102-4) (Gisele Pereira Dias, Tytus Murphy, Doris Stangl, Selda Ahmet, Benjamin Morisse, Alina Nix, Lindsey J. Aimone, James B. Aimone, Makoto Kuro-O, Fred H. Gage, Sandrine Thuret)

About King's College London

King's College London is one of the top 10 UK universities in the world (QS World University Rankings, 2018/19) and among the oldest in England. King's has more than 31,000 students (including more than 12,800 postgraduates) from some 150 countries worldwide, and some 8,500 staff.

The Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN) which is the premier centre for mental health and related neurosciences research in Europe. It produces more highly cited outputs (top 1% citations) on mental health than any other centre (SciVal 2019) and on this metric we have risen from 16th (2014) to 4th (2019) in the world for highly cited neuroscience outputs. World-leading research from the IoPPN has made, and continues to make, an impact on how we understand, prevent and treat mental illness and other conditions that affect the brain. https://www.kcl.ac.uk/ioppn @KingsIoPPN

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