Intermittent fasting during Ramadan attenuates proinflammatory cytokines and immune cells in healthy subjects

Nutr Res. 2012 Dec;32(12):947-55. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2012.06.021. Epub 2012 Oct 4.


Intermittent fasting and caloric restriction have been shown to extend life expectancy and reduce inflammation and cancer promotion in animal models. It was hypothesized that intermittent prolonged fasting practiced during the month of Ramadan (RIF) could positively affect the inflammatory state. To investigate this hypothesis, a cross-sectional study was designed to investigate the impact of RIF on selected inflammatory cytokines and immune biomarkers in healthy subjects. Fifty (21 men and 29 women) healthy volunteers who practiced Ramadan fasting were recruited for the investigation of circulating proinflammatory cytokines (interleukin [IL]-1β, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor α), immune cells (total leukocytes, monocytes, granulocytes, and lymphocytes), and anthropometric and dietary assessments. The investigations were conducted 1 week before Ramadan fasting, at the end of the third week of Ramadan, and 1 month after the cessation of Ramadan month. The proinflammatory cytokines IL-1β, IL-6, and tumor necrosis factor α; systolic and diastolic blood pressures; body weight; and body fat percentage were significantly lower (P < .05) during Ramadan as compared with before Ramadan or after the cessation of Ramadan fasting. Immune cells significantly decreased during Ramadan but still remained within the reference ranges. These results indicate that RIF attenuates inflammatory status of the body by suppressing proinflammatory cytokine expression and decreasing body fat and circulating levels of leukocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / immunology
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Fasting*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / prevention & control*
  • Inflammation Mediators / blood*
  • Islam*
  • Leukocytes / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Reference Values
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators