Calorie restriction (CR) inhibits inflammation and slows aging in many animal species, but in rodents housed in pathogen-free facilities, CR impairs immunity against certain pathogens. However, little is known about the effects of long-term moderate CR on immune function in humans. In this multi-center, randomized clinical trial to determine CR's effect on inflammation and cell-mediated immunity, 218 healthy non-obese adults (20-50 y), were assigned 25% CR (n=143) or an ad-libitum (AL) diet (n=75), and outcomes tested at baseline, 12, and 24 months of CR. CR induced a 10.4% weight loss over the 2-y period. Relative to AL group, CR reduced circulating inflammatory markers, including total WBC and lymphocyte counts, ICAM-1 and leptin. Serum CRP and TNF-α concentrations were about 40% and 50% lower in CR group, respectively. CR had no effect on the delayed-type hypersensitivity skin response or antibody response to vaccines, nor did it cause difference in clinically significant infections. In conclusion, long-term moderate CR without malnutrition induces a significant and persistent inhibition of inflammation without impairing key in vivo indicators of cell-mediated immunity. Given the established role of these pro-inflammatory molecules in the pathogenesis of multiple chronic diseases, these CR-induced adaptations suggest a shift toward a healthy phenotype.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00427193.
Keywords: calorie restriction; cell-mediated immunity; familial longevity; human; inflammation; vaccine response.