• Open Access

Caloric restriction may reverse age-related autonomic decline in humans

Authors

  • Phyllis K. Stein,

    1. HRV Laboratory, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
    • These authors contributed equally to this research.

  • Andreea Soare,

    1. Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA
    2. Department of Endocrinology and Diabetes, University Campus Bio-Medico, Rome, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author
    • These authors contributed equally to this research.

  • Timothy E. Meyer,

    1. Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Roberto Cangemi,

    1. Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA
    2. Department of Experimental Medicine, University of Rome ‘La Sapienza’, Rome, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author
  • John O. Holloszy,

    1. Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Luigi Fontana

    1. Division of Geriatrics and Nutritional Science, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, USA
    2. Department of Medicine, Salerno University School of Medicine, Salerno, Italy
    3. CEINGE Biotecnologie Avanzate, Napoli, Italy
    Search for more papers by this author

Luigi Fontana, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S. Euclid Avenue, Campus Box 8031, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA. Tel.: +314  747 1485; fax: +314  362 7657; e-mail: lfontana@dom.wustl.edu and Phyllis K. Stein, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 S. Euclid Avenue, Campus Box 8086, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA. Tel.: +314 286 1350; fax: +314 747 8560; e-mail: pstein@dom.wustl.edu

Summary

Caloric restriction (CR) retards aging in laboratory rodents. No information is available on the effects of long-term CR on physiologic markers of aging and longevity in humans. Heart rate variability (HRV) is a marker for cardiac autonomic functioning. The progressive decline in HRV with aging and the association of higher HRV with better health outcomes are well established. Heart rate variability assessment is a reliable tool by which the effects of CR on autonomic function can be assessed. Time- and frequency-domain analyses compared 24-h HRV in 22 CR individuals aged 35–82 years and 20 age-matched controls eating Western diets (WD). The CR group was significantly leaner than the WD group. Heart rate was significantly lower, and virtually, all HRV values were significantly higher in the CR group than in the WD group (P < 0.002). Heart rate variability in the CR individuals was comparable with published norms for healthy individuals 20 years younger. In addition, when differences in heart rate (HR) and HRV between CR and WD were compared with previously published changes in HRV induced in healthy adults given atenolol, percent differences in each measure were generally similar in direction and magnitude and suggested declines in sympathetic and increases in parasympathetic modulation of HR and increased circadian variability associated with CR. These findings provide evidence that CR has direct systemic effects that counter the expected age-associated changes in autonomic function so that HRV indexes in CR individuals are similar to those of individuals 20 years younger eating WDs.

Ancillary