May Help Protect Against Immune-Related Effects of Chemotherapy and
chemotherapy can save lives, it can also cause many side effects,
including the depletion of immune cells.
even in the absence of chemotherapy, normal aging takes a heavy toll
on the immune system, leading to immune deficiencies and a higher
risk of developing leukemia and a variety of malignancies with age.
fasting the number of hematopoietic stem cells increases but the
number of the normally much more abundant white blood cells decreases.
In young or healthy mice undergoing multiple fasting/re-feeding
cycles, the population of stem cells increases in size although
the number of white blood cells remain normal. In mice treated
with chemotherapy or in old mice, the cycles of fasting reverse
the immunosuppression and immunosenescence, respectively. Credit:
Cell Stem Cell, Cheng et al.
reporting in the June 5th 2014 issue of the Cell Press journal
Cell Stem Cell have found that a simple dietary intervention --
periodic fasting -- may combat both chemotherapy-induced and aging-related
changes in immune cell function by replenishing
stem cells in the blood.
findings suggest that fasting may provide benefits for cancer patients,
the elderly, and people with various immune defects.
estimated that more than one-fifth of cancer-related deaths are hastened,
or even caused, by toxic effects of chemotherapy rather than the cancer
itself. These toxicities can reduce the overall effectiveness of anticancer
treatments by limiting the dosage and frequency of chemotherapeutic
interventions that are tolerable to patients.
there are no interventions to lessen the side effects that chemotherapy
has on the immune system or to prevent the immune cell dysfunction
that occurs with aging.
work by Dr. Valter Longo, of the University of Southern California,
and his colleagues revealed that temporary nutrient restriction could
increase stem cells' resistance to certain stressors.
latest work, they tested whether fasting could have protective effects
for immune cells such as white blood cells.
show that prolonged fasting periods cause a major reduction in white
blood cell number followed by its replenishment after refeeding,"
said Dr. Longo. "We discovered that this effect, which may
have evolved to reduce energy expenditure during periods of starvation,
is able to switch stem cells to a mode able to not only regenerate
immune cells and reverse the immunosuppression caused by chemotherapy,
but also rejuvenate the immune system of old mice."
found that protection against white blood cell loss also occurred
in human patients who fasted for a single 72-hour period prior
to platinum-based chemotherapy as part of a phase 1 clinical trial.
additional experiments, the investigators discovered that fasting
provides its protective effects by reducing levels of insulin-like
growth factor-1 (IGF-1), a protein with key roles in growth and aging.
Therefore, fasting or treatments that target the IGF-1 pathway might
provide similar benefits for cancer patients, the elderly, and people
with immune defects.
and others are currently testing the effect of fasting-mimicking diets
on the protection of patients against chemotherapy's side effects,
and we're also testing the role of multiple cycles of a fasting-mimicking
diet on the immune system in generally healthy middle-aged and elderly
subjects," said Dr. Longo.
From Cell Stem Cell, Cheng et al.: "Prolonged Fasting
reduces IGF-1/PKA to promote hematopoietic stem cell-based regeneration
and reverse immunosuppression."
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