Intermittent fasting can extend life in laboratory animals and was recently demonstrated to improve immune function under at least some circumstances. There is a fair amount of research that demonstrates the benefits of fasting in conjunction with standard cancer treatments. The changes in metabolism that take place during fasting may make it a useful addition to a range of medical procedures, improving outcomes and survival rates. Here is one example of supporting evidence for this assertion:
Ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) is inevitable during kidney transplantation leading to oxidative stress and inflammation. We previously reported that preoperative fasting in young-lean male mice protects against IRI. Since patients are generally of older age with morbidities possibly leading to a different response to fasting, we investigated the effects of preoperative fasting on renal IRI in aged-overweight male and female mice.
Male and female F1-FVB/C57BL6-hybrid mice, average age 73 weeks weighing 47.2 grams, were randomized to preoperative ad libitum feeding or 3 days fasting, followed by renal IRI. Body weight, kidney function and survival of the animals were monitored until day 28 postoperatively. Kidney histopathology was scored for all animals and gene expression profiles after fasting were analyzed in kidneys of young and aged male mice.
Preoperative fasting significantly improved survival after renal IRI in both sexes compared with normal fed mice. Fasted groups had a better kidney function shown by lower serum urea levels after renal IRI. Histopathology showed less acute tubular necrosis and more regeneration in kidneys from fasted mice. Similar to young-lean, healthy male mice, preoperative fasting protects against renal IRI in aged-overweight mice of both genders. These findings suggest a general protective response of fasting against renal IRI regardless of age, gender, body weight and genetic background. Therefore, fasting could be a non-invasive intervention inducing increased oxidative stress resistance in older and overweight patients as well.