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expert reaction to study of time restricted diet in mouse models of Alzheimer’s Disease

A study published in Cell Metabolism looks at time-restricted feeding and memory in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease.


Dr Susan Kohlhaas, Executive Director of Research & Partnerships at Alzheimer’s Research UK says:

“The effect of fasting on different aspects of health and disease continues to be an area of research interest. Early stage studies have suggested that fasting may have an impact on different types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease but research to date has not been conclusive.

“This study found that, in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease, restricting the time window for eating improved the symptoms of disrupted sleep, cognition and reduced levels of amyloid in the brain.

“This study does have limitations. As the research was carried out in mice, we do not know if the beneficial effects of a restricted diet will be the same in humans, how long any benefits would last, or how long the time window for restricted eating would need to be to show benefit. This is further complicated by the difficulty in conducting clinical trials in people as restricted eating can be difficult to study in the context of large-scale and conclusive clinical trials.

“What this study does show is that time-restricted eating may be a way of improving the changes to sleep and behaviour associated with dementia and poses some possible mechanisms to explore further.

“Studies conducted in animal models are the first step in providing an understanding of how these different biological processes work in the brain, but these findings will need to be investigated in the context of clinical trials before we understand whether this approach would be useful in people living with Alzheimer’s disease.

“We’re at an exciting time in Alzheimer’s research, with the first generation of treatments coming through late-stage trials. Our next step must be to invest in new areas of research that help us develop and test treatment strategies that can slow, stop, or reverse Alzheimer’s disease. And it’s studies like this that add to our fundamental understanding of dementia, which give us important clues to how we might tackle the disease.”


Prof Tara Spires-Jones, Professor at the UK Dementia Research Institute at the University of Edinburgh and President of the British Neuroscience Association, said:

“Desplats and team report that two Alzheimer’s disease mouse models have disrupted sleep patterns.  When the scientists restricted the times that the mice could eat to 6 hours per day compared to letting mice eat 24h per day, these sleep disturbances were prevented and the pathology in the brain was reduced.  Time restricted feeding for 3 months also prevented cognitive deficits in the mice.   This is a well-conducted study that shows that in mice, restricting the amount of time in the day that animals eat is protective against Alzheimer’s like brain changes.  It is important to note the limitations that this study was in relatively small numbers of mice and that these mice do not perfectly model human Alzheimer’s disease.  While healthy diet has been linked in people to reduced risk of Alzheimer’s disease and people with Alzheimer’s disease do often have disrupted sleep patterns, we still do not know whether restricting the times in the day you eat will be helpful in humans.”



‘Circadian modulation by time-restricted feeding rescues brain pathology and improves memory in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease’ by Daniel S. Whittaker et al. was published in Cell Metabolism at 16:00 UK time on Monday 21 August.




Declared interests

Prof Tara Spires-Jones: “I have no conflicts with this study.”

For all other experts, no reply to our request for DOIs was received.

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