A fast on food: new evidence on the benefits of a break


How about a bottomless cup of nothing with a side of air?


Scientific evidence that taking a break from food increases brain health.

Acute Fasting Regulates Retrograde Synaptic Enhancement through a 4E-BP-Dependent Mechanism

by Grant Kauwe, Kazuya Tsurudome, Jay Penney, Megumi Mori, Lindsay Gray, Mario R. Calderon, Fatima Elazouzzi, Nicole Chicoine, Nahum Sonenberg, A. Pejmun Haghighi
Article Summary: While beneficial effects of fasting on organismal function and health are well appreciated, we know little about the molecular details of how fasting influences synaptic function and plasticity. Our genetic and electrophysiological experiments demonstrate that acute fasting blocks retrograde synaptic enhancement that is normally triggered as a result of reduction in postsynaptic receptor function at the Drosophila larval neuromuscular junction (NMJ). This negative regulation critically depends on transcriptional enhancement of eukaryotic initiation factor 4E binding protein (4E-BP) under the control of the transcription factor Forkhead box O (Foxo). Furthermore, our findings indicate that postsynaptic 4E-BP exerts a constitutive negative input, which is counteracted by a positive regulatory input from the Target of Rapamycin (TOR). This combinatorial retrograde signaling plays a key role in regulating synaptic strength. Our results provide a mechanistic insight into how cellular stress and nutritional scarcity could acutely influence synaptic homeostasis and functional stability in neural circuits.


Food Process’s Translation: What might fasting do for our cells that may benefit us in the long term? Simply put, acute or short bursts of fasting (“acute” here means a few hours in fruit flies) results in a reduction of cell communication. That sounds like a bad thing. But the thing is that with a reduction in neurotransmitter release, the brain has an opportunity to “clean up” itself by limiting unwanted damage. For individuals at risk for disease that involve neurodegeneration, such as Alzheimer’s, this could have significant value.

So, the next time you’re considering a fast to cleanse your system, think beyond your G.I. tract. Your brain cells will benefit, too!

foodprocess.org: forget processed food, get a food process


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