In laboratory animals, calorie restriction (CR) protects against aging, oxidative stress, and neurodegenerative pathologies. Reduced levels of growth hormone and IGF-1, which mediate some of the protective effects of CR, can also extend longevity and/or protect against age-related diseases in rodents and humans. However, severely restricted diets are difficult to maintain and are associated with chronically low weight and other major side effects. Here we show that 4 months of periodic protein restriction cycles (PRCs) with supplementation of nonessential amino acids in mice already displaying significant cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease (AD)-like pathology reduced circulating IGF-1 levels by 30-70% and caused an 8-fold increase in IGFBP-1. Whereas PRCs did not affect the levels of β amyloid (Aβ), they decreased tau phosphorylation in the hippocampus and alleviated the age-dependent impairment in cognitive performance. These results indicate that periodic protein restriction cycles without CR can promote changes in circulating growth factors and tau phosphorylation associated with protection against age-related neuropathologies.
© 2013 The Authors Aging Cell © 2013 Blackwell Publishing Ltd/Anatomical Society of Great Britain and Ireland.