Neuroprotection of Fasting Mimicking Diet on MPTP-Induced Parkinson's Disease Mice via Gut Microbiota and Metabolites

Neurotherapeutics. 2019 Jul;16(3):741-760. doi: 10.1007/s13311-019-00719-2.


Parkinson's disease (PD) is strongly associated with life style, especially dietary habits, which have gained attention as disease modifiers. Here, we report a fasting mimicking diet (FMD), fasting 3 days followed by 4 days of refeeding for three 1-week cycles, which accelerated the retention of motor function and attenuated the loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra in 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrathydropyridine (MPTP)-induced PD mice. Levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), known to promote the survival of dopaminergic neurons, were increased in PD mice after FMD, suggesting an involvement of BDNF in FMD-mediated neuroprotection. Furthermore, FMD decreased the number of glial cells as well as the release of TNF-α and IL-1β in PD mice, showing that FMD also inhibited neuro-inflammation. 16S and 18S rRNA sequencing of fecal microbiota showed that FMD treatment modulated the shifts in gut microbiota composition, including higher abundance of Firmicutes, Tenericutes, and Opisthokonta and lower abundance of Proteobacteria at the phylum level in PD mice. Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry revealed that FMD modulated the MPTP-induced lower propionic acid and isobutyric acid, and higher butyric acid and valeric acid and other metabolites. Transplantation of fecal microbiota, from normal mice with FMD treatment to antibiotic-pretreated PD mice increased dopamine levels in the recipient PD mice, suggesting that gut microbiota contributed to the neuroprotection of FMD for PD. These findings demonstrate that FMD can be a new means of preventing and treating PD through promoting a favorable gut microbiota composition and metabolites.

Keywords: BDNF; Parkinson’s disease; fasting mimicking diet; gut microbiota; metabolites; neuro-inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Brain Chemistry
  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor / analysis
  • Corpus Striatum / chemistry
  • Dopamine / analysis
  • Dopamine / metabolism
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Fasting* / physiology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / physiology
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / diet therapy
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / prevention & control*
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S / genetics
  • Serotonin / analysis
  • Serotonin / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 18S
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Serotonin
  • Dopamine