Barts-MS rose-tinted-odometer ★★
You know something is happening when it gets its own review article in the New England Journal of Medicine. The review article in last weeks issue covers the science and medicine around intermittent fasting (IF) and its effects on health, ageing and disease. The article even includes a few lines on IF and its potential impact on MS.
In my ‘2020 Vision’ post yesterday under #ThinkMetabolic I glibly made the comment that ‘we are our metabolism and that MS is first and foremost a metabolic disease’. I truly believe this. Let me tell you why.
MS is a complex disease due to an interaction between the environment (macro- and micro-environment) and our genomes (DNA code, epigenome or DNA modifications, and our metagenome or microbiome). Studying each component in isolation is difficult. However, the complexity comes together in the metabolome or our metabolism, i.e. in how the body and its organ systems function on a day-to-day basis. Similarly, when we treat MS we modify our metabolism. So the way to integrate all influences on the body is to study our metabolism.
The question I pose is can we hack our metabolism in a way that will improve MS outcomes? I am sure we can and one way of doing this is through diet. There is mounting evidence that caloric restriction (CR), intermittent fasting (IF) and ketogenic diets (KD) does this, which is why if I had MS I would be exploring these as potential complementary treatment options.
Common to caloric restriction (CE), intermittent fasting (IF) and ketogenic diets (KD) is a metabolic switch that triggers anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective and antiageing mechanisms. The body responds to these diets by an adaptive stress response that leads to upregulation of antioxidant defences, DNA repair, protein quality control, mitochondrial biogenesis and autophagy, and down-regulation of inflammation. Animals maintained on intermittent-fasting regimens show improved function and resistance to a broad range of stressors.
Ketosis alters cell signalling mechanisms and increases the nuclear factor erythroid 2–related factor 2 (NRF2) transcription factors, which are part of the programmed cell survival pathway. Interestingly, this pathway is the one that dimethyl fumarate works via. In fact, many of the metabolic changes that are seen with ketosis are similar to that which are seen with DMF. Similarly, metformin the antiageing diabetes drug triggers a similar metabolic switch to ketosis. Could DMF and metformin be mimicking IF or ketosis? I say yes!
Similarly, IF and KD trigger antiageing mechanisms and potentially rejuvenate senescent cells. The recent observation that CR and metformin rejuvenate senescent oligodendrocyte precursor cells and augmented remyelination in older animals suggests that these mechanisms are inter-related.
There are several dietary trials in MS exploring IF and KD as a potential DMT. Some of the preliminary results are very interesting. I suspect interesting enough for many of you to have already adopted IF or ketosis as a treatment option. So if you are wanting to hack your metabolism you may want to read the NEJM review; figure 4 from the article gives some advice on how to incorporate IF patterns into your daily life.
If you have given CR, IF or KD a try please let us know how they make you feel. It is clear from our ‘Food Coma Survey‘ that many people with MS and food coma are already using dietary manipulation to manage their symptoms.
de Cabo & Mattson. Effects of Intermittent Fasting on Health, Aging, and Disease. N Engl J Med 2019; 381:2541-2551
Choi IY, Piccio L, Childress P, et al. A diet mimicking fasting promotes regeneration and reduces autoimmunity and multiple sclerosis symptoms. Cell Rep 2016;15:2136-2146.
Dietary interventions have not been effective in the treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). Here, we show that periodic 3-day cycles of a fasting mimicking diet (FMD) are effective in ameliorating demyelination and symptoms in a murine experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model. The FMD reduced clinical severity in all mice and completely reversed symptoms in 20% of animals. These improvements were associated with increased corticosterone levels and regulatory T (Treg) cell numbers and reduced levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, TH1 and TH17 cells, and antigen-presenting cells (APCs). Moreover, the FMD promoted oligodendrocyte precursor cell regeneration and remyelination in axons in both EAE and cuprizone MS models, supporting its effects on both suppression of autoimmunity and remyelination. We also report preliminary data suggesting that an FMD or a chronic ketogenic diet are safe, feasible, and potentially effective in the treatment of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) patients (NCT01538355).
Cignarella F, Cantoni C, Ghezzi L, et al. Intermittent fasting confers protection in CNS autoimmunity by altering the gut microbiota. Cell Metab 2018;27(6):1222.e6-1235.e6.
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is more common in western countries with diet being a potential contributing factor. Here we show that intermittent fasting (IF) ameliorated clinical course and pathology of the MS model, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). IF led to increased gut bacteria richness, enrichment of the Lactobacillaceae, Bacteroidaceae, and Prevotellaceae families and enhanced antioxidative microbial metabolic pathways. IF altered T cells in the gut with a reduction of IL-17 producing T cells and an increase in regulatory T cells. Fecal microbiome transplantation from mice on IF ameliorated EAE in immunized recipient mice on a normal diet, suggesting that IF effects are at least partially mediated by the gut flora. In a pilot clinical trial in MS patients, intermittent energy restriction altered blood adipokines and the gut flora resembling protective changes observed in mice. In conclusion, IF has potent immunomodulatory effects that are at least partially mediated by the gut microbiome.
Fitzgerald KC, Vizthum D, Henry-Barron B, et al. Effect of intermittent vs. daily calorie restriction on changes in weight and patient-reported outcomes in people with multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler Relat Disord 2018;23:33-39.
An intermittent fasting or calorie restriction diet has favorable effects in the mouse forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) and may provide additional anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective advantages beyond benefits obtained from weight loss alone. We conducted a pilot randomized controlled feeding study in 36 people with MS to assess safety and feasibility of different types of calorie restriction (CR) diets and assess their effects on weight and patient reported outcomes in people with MS. Patients were randomized to receive 1 of 3 diets for 8 weeks: daily CR diet (22% daily reduction in energy needs), intermittent CR diet (75% reduction in energy needs, 2 days/week; 0% reduction, 5 days/week), or a weight-stable diet (0% reduction in energy needs, 7 days/week). Of the 36 patients enrolled, 31 (86%) completed the trial; no significant adverse events occurred. Participants randomized to CR diets lost a median 3.4 kg (interquartile range [IQR]: -2.4, -4.0). Changes in weight did not differ significantly by type of CR diet, although participants randomized to daily CR tended to have greater weight loss (daily CR: -3.6 kg [IQR: -3.0, -4.1] vs. intermittent CR: -3.0 kg [IQR: -1.95, -4.1]; P = 0.15). Adherence to study diets differed significantly between intermittent CR vs. daily CR, with lesser adherence observed for intermittent CR (P = 0.002). Randomization to either CR diet was associated with significant improvements in emotional well-being/depression scores relative to control, with an average 8-week increase of 1.69 points (95% CI: 0.72, 2.66). CR diets are a safe/feasible way to achieve weight loss in people with MS and may be associated with improved emotional health.