Fasting Can Reduce Brain-Injury Impact

by Dan Adkins, UK Public Relations
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Researchers at the University of Kentucky have found that fasting within the first 24 hours of a moderate traumatic brain injury reduces the damage to brain tissue and improves cognitive function.

Using rats as their model system, a research team led by Patrick Sullivan of the UK Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Center found that fasting after such an injury increases the amount of brain tissue that is preserved. This dietary therapy also preserved the rats’ ability to use and develop spatial memory, indicating that the tissue spared is functional.

“In this study we were primarily interested in the preservation of mitochondrial function, since mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell and responsible for the production of most of the energy used by the cell,” explains Laurie Davis, a graduate student and lead author on the article reporting these findings, which appeared in the Journal of Neuroscience Research.

The UK team also investigated ketone bodies, which are produced by the liver from fat in response to a prolonged decrease in glucose levels. Giving the animals ketones increased preservation of brain tissue compared with a control group of untreated animals.

“In previous studies, we showed that ketones preserve mitochondrial function after neuronal injury,” Davis says. “This finding could indicate that ketosis, the production of ketones, is the underlying mechanism responsible for the beneficial effects of fasting after brain injury, and could represent a potential therapeutic intervention for the treatment of traumatic brain injury.”

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Laurie Davis

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