Intermittent Fasting Confers Protection in CNS Autoimmunity by Altering the Gut Microbiota

A mouse study, published on the June issue of Cell Metabolism, shows that intermittent fasting (IF) ameliorated the clinical course and pathology of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). EAE is the animal model used to study an inflammatory and demyelinating disease of the central nervous system, which is used to mimic human multiple sclerosis.  IF led to increased gut bacteria richness, enrichment of the Lactobacillaceae, Bacteroidaceae, and Prevotellaceae families and enhanced antioxidative microbial metabolic pathways. IF altered T-cells in the gut with a reduction of IL-17 producing T cells and an increase in regulatory T cells. Fecal microbiome transplantation from mice on IF ameliorated EAE in immunized recipient mice on a normal diet, suggesting that IF effects are at least partially mediated by the gut flora. In a pilot clinical trial in MS patients, intermittent energy restriction altered blood adipokines and the gut flora resembling protective changes observed in mice. In conclusion, IF has potent immunomodulatory effects that are at least partially mediated by the gut microbiome.

The study was conducted in collaboration by researchers at multiple universities in the U.S. and Italy.