Caloric restriction and intermittent fasting alter spectral measures of heart rate and blood pressure variability in rats

FASEB J. 2006 Apr;20(6):631-7. doi: 10.1096/fj.05-5263com.


Dietary restriction (DR) has been shown to increase life span, delay or prevent age-associated diseases, and improve functional and metabolic cardiovascular risk factors in rodents and other species. To investigate the effects of DR on beat-to-beat heart rate and diastolic blood pressure variability (HRV and DPV) in male Sprague-Dawley rats, we implanted telemetric transmitters and animals were maintained on either intermittent fasting (every other day feeding) or calorie-restricted (40% caloric reduction) diets. Using power spectral analysis, we evaluated the temporal profiles of the low- and high-frequency oscillatory components in heart rate and diastolic blood pressure signals to assess cardiac autonomic activity. Body weight, heart rate, and systolic and diastolic blood pressure were all found to decrease in response to DR. Both methods of DR produced decreases in the low-frequency component of DPV spectra, a marker for sympathetic tone, and the high-frequency component of HRV spectra, a marker for parasympathetic activity, was increased. These parameters required at least 1 month to become maximal, but returned toward baseline values rapidly once rats resumed ad libitum diets. These results suggest an additional cardiovascular benefit of DR that merits further studies of this potential effect in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Body Weight
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Fasting / physiology*
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Male
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley