Caloric restriction and brain function

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Purpose of reviewIn addition to extending lifespan, animal research shows that specific diets benefit brain functioning. Indeed, it has been proven that caloric restriction prevents age-related neuronal damage. What are those mechanisms involved in the effects of caloric restriction on brain functioning? Could caloric restriction be proposed in the future to prevent or treat neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease? Is there a future for caloric restriction interventions in adults?Recent findingsHypotheses linking caloric restriction to cognitive capability include anti-inflammatory mechanisms, reduction of neural oxidative stress, promotion of synaptic plasticity, induction of various stress and neurotrophic/neuroprotective factors. Caloric restriction may also prevent β-amyloid neuropathology in Alzheimer transgenic models. Finally, both exercise and caloric restriction enhance neurogenesis via different mechanisms suggesting that their combination may decrease the risk of neurodegenerative disease.SummaryIt is now well established that caloric restriction could be used to promote successful brain aging. Data from randomized controlled trials in humans are limited. No positive effect on cognitive impairment was found probably due to methodological limitations. The long-term effects of caloric restriction in adults must be clarified before engaging in such preventive strategy. Additional animal studies must be conducted in the future to test the effects of ‘multidomain’ interventions (caloric restriction plus regular exercise) on age-related cognitive decline.

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