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Metabolic Effects of Caloric Restriction

  1. Joseph A Baur

Published Online: 15 MAR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0021316



How to Cite

Baur, J. A. 2009. Metabolic Effects of Caloric Restriction. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2009

This is not the most recent version of the article. View current version (15 OCT 2014)


Caloric restriction (CR) improves health and increases longevity in organisms from yeast to mammals. Studies in rodent models show that CR suppresses a wide range of diseases that contribute to human morbidity and mortality such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Although the metabolic and physiological changes induced by CR have been investigated for over 70 years, the precise mechanism by which it is able to slow the progression of age-related degeneration remains a subject of much debate. This article summarizes our current understanding, including recent findings that implicate specific enzymes and signalling pathways in the process. Further study of CR may provide insight into the nature of aging and reveal new opportunities to improve the quality and quantity of human life.

Key concepts

  • Reducing energy intake in the absence of malnutrition (caloric restriction) improves health and extends longevity.

  • Caloric restriction causes widespread changes in physiology and metabolism, many of which are distinct from fasting responses.

  • Manipulation of specific genetic pathways can block or mimic some responses to caloric restriction.

  • Insulin/IGF-1 signalling is consistently implicated in the mechanism of caloric restriction.

  • Neither aging nor its retardation by caloric restriction is understood, however much of the available data is compatible with the Free Radical Hypothesis.


  • dietary restriction;
  • aging;
  • longevity;
  • healthspan;
  • sirtuins;
  • mitochondria