Calorie Restriction Rewires Metabolism and Immunity for a Longer Life Span

According to a new study, calorie restriction increases metabolic and immunological responses, which help decide how long a person lives and how many years of good health they have.

“Two years of moderate calorie restriction reprogrammed fat cell pathways that help regulate the way mitochondria generate energy, the body’s anti-inflammatory responses, and possibly longevity,” said Eric Ravussin, Ph.D., Associate Executive Director for Clinical Science at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. “Calorie restriction, in other words, rewires many of the metabolic and immunological responses that extend longevity and improve health.”

CALERIE 2 (Comprehensive Assessment of the Long-Term Effects of Reducing Intake of Energy), Pennington Biomedical’s longest-running calorie restriction trial in humans, was employed in the new study. The new research was published in the scientific journal Science.

T cells, which play a vital role in immune function and decrease the aging process, were found to be increased in those who cut their calorie intake by roughly 14% over two years.

“Thymuses decrease and produce fewer T cells as people age. As a result, older adults have a tougher time battling infections and certain diseases,” said Eric Ravussin, Ph.D., Pennington Biomedical Research Center’s Associate Executive Director for Clinical Science. “Calorie restriction prevents the thymus from contracting, resulting in the production of more T cells.”

According to Dr. Ravussin, an increase in T cells is linked to a better ability to burn fatty acid storage for energy, in addition to increasing immunity. This is significant because if this fuel is not burned, fat can accumulate in organs such as the muscle and liver, leading to insulin resistance, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and aging.

“If researchers can figure out how to harness PLA2G7, they might be able to develop a medication that extends a person’s health span,” said Pennington Biomedical Executive Director John Kirwan, Ph.D.

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