Reversible effects of long-term caloric restriction protein oxidative damage

M. J. Forster, B. H. Sohal, R. S. Sohal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


The age-associated increase in oxidative damage in ad libitum-fed mice is attenuated in mice fed calorically restricted (CR) diets. The objective of this study was to determine if this effect results from a slowing of age-related accumulation of oxidative damage, or from a reversible decrease of oxidative damage by caloric restriction. To address these possibilities, crossover studies were conducted in C57BL/6 mice aged 15 to 22 months that had been maintained, after 4 months of age, on ad libitum (AL) or a 60% of AL caloric regimen. One half of the mice in these groups were switched to the opposite regimen of caloric intake for periods up to 6 weeks, and protein oxidative damage (measured as carbonyl concentration and loss of sulfhydryl content) was measured in homogenates of brain and heart. In AL-fed mice, the protein carbonyl content increased with age, whereas the sulfhydryl content decreased. Old mice maintained continuously under CR had reduced levels of protein oxidative damage when compared with the old mice fed AL. The effects of chronic CR on the carbonyl content of the whole brain and the sulfhydryl content of the heart were fully reversible within 3-6 weeks following reinstatement of AL feeding. The effect of chronic CR on the sulfhydryl content of the brain cortex was only partially reversible. The introduction of CR for 6 weeks in the old mice resulted in a reduction of protein oxidative damage (as indicated by whole brain carbonyl content and cortex sulfhydryl), although this effect was not equivalent to that of CR from 4 months of age. The introduction of CR did not affect the sulfhydryl content of the heart. Overall, the current findings indicate that changes in the level of caloric intake may reversibly affect the concentration of oxidized proteins and sufhydryl content. In addition, chronic restriction of caloric intake also retards the age-associated accumulation of oxidative damage. The magnitude of the reversible and chronic effects appears to be dependent upon the tissue examined and the nature of the oxidative alteration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)B522-B529
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2000


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