Comprehensive modulation of tumor progression and regression with periodic fasting and refeeding circles via boosting IGFBP-3 loops and NK responses

Endocrinology. 2012 Oct;153(10):4622-32. doi: 10.1210/en.2011-2101. Epub 2012 Aug 17.


Progressive tumor-bearing patients deserve to benefit from more realistic approaches. Here, a study revealed the impact of modified periodic fasting and refeeding regimen on tumor progression or regression with little or no loss of food intake and body weight. Human A549 lung, HepG-2 liver, and SKOV-3 ovary progressive tumor-bearing mice were established and subjected to 4 wk of periodic fasting/refeeding cycles (PFRC), including periodic 1-d fasting/6-d refeeding weekly (protocol 1) and periodic 2-d fasting/5-d refeeding weekly (P2DF/5DR, protocol 2), with ad libitum (AL)-fed hosts as controls. Afterwards, PFRC groups exhibited tumor growth arrest with some tendency towards regression; especially, complete regression of progressive tumors and metastases comprised between 43.75 and 56.25% of tumor-challenged hosts in P2DF/5DR group (P < 0.05). AL controls, in contrast, showed continuous tumor progression and metastasis. Finally, 100% hosts in P2DF/5DR and 62.5-68.75% in periodic 1-d fasting/6-d refeeding weekly groups survived a 4-month study period vs. only 31.25-37.5% in AL control group. Immunological assays and Luminex microarray revealed that tumor growth remission is mainly via natural killer cell (NK) reactivity and cross-regulation of IGF-binding protein-3, IGF/IGF-receptor, and megakaryocyte growth and development factor autocrine and paracrine loops. In vivo cellular and humoral assays indicated that tumor-regressive induction by PFRC protocols could be partly terminated by NK cell and IGF-binding protein-3 blockade or replenishment of IGF-I/-II and megakaryocyte growth and development factor. These findings offer a better understanding of comprehensive modulation of periodic fasting/refeeding strategy on the balance between tumor progression and regression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Disease Progression
  • Eating / physiology
  • Fasting / physiology*
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3 / metabolism*
  • Killer Cells, Natural / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*


  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor Binding Protein 3