Dr. Ron’s Research Review – March 22, 2017


This week’s research review focuses on a fasting-mimicking diet that promotes beta-cell regeneration.

A recent study published in Cell Metabolism describes a fasting-mimicking diet that promotes beta-cell regeneration to reverse diabetes. (Cheng 2017) (Brandhorst et al., 2015)

Mice receiving the 4-day FMD showed improved glucose tolerance and insulin tolerance compared to the ad libitum fed controls.
Pancreatic islets from healthy and T1D subjects (HI and T1DI, respectively) were cultured and then treated with serum from five subjects enrolled in a clinical trial testing the effects of a low-protein and low-calorie FMD lasting 5 days (NCT02158897). The glucose and low-serum fasting mimicking medium (STS) significantly stimulated the secretion of insulin in both HI and T1DI. Fasting mimicking conditions had strong effects in inducing the expression of Sox2, Ngn3, and insulin in human pancreatic islets from healthy (healthy islets, HI) and T1D subjects.
A low-protein and low-sugar fasting mimicking diet (FMD) causes a temporary reduction in beta-cell number followed by its return to normal levels after re-feeding. Six to eight cycles of the FMD and re-feeding were required to restore the beta-cell mass and insulin secretion function and to return the 6-hr-fasting blood glucose to nearly normal levels.

The author affiliations are impressive.
University of Southern California Longevity Institute, GOFARR Laboratory for Organ Regenerative Research and Cell Therapeutics, Saban Research Institute, Diabetes Center, Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research 
IFOM FIRC Institute of Molecular Oncology, Via Adamello 16, Milan 20139, Italy
Koch Institute at MIT

Dr. Ron



Cheng 2017 - Fasting-Mimicking Diet Promotes Beta-Cell Regeneration to Reverse Diabetes

A Periodic Diet that Mimics Fasting Promotes Multi-System Regeneration, Enhanced Cognitive Performance, and Healthspan.
            (Brandhorst et al., 2015) Download
Prolonged fasting (PF) promotes stress resistance, but its effects on longevity are poorly understood. We show that alternating PF and nutrient-rich medium extended yeast lifespan independently of established pro-longevity genes. In mice, 4 days of a diet that mimics fasting (FMD), developed to minimize the burden of PF, decreased the size of multiple organs/systems, an effect followed upon re-feeding by an elevated number of progenitor and stem cells and regeneration. Bi-monthly FMD cycles started at middle age extended longevity, lowered visceral fat, reduced cancer incidence and skin lesions, rejuvenated the immune system, and retarded bone mineral density loss. In old mice, FMD cycles promoted hippocampal neurogenesis, lowered IGF-1 levels and PKA activity, elevated NeuroD1, and improved cognitive performance. In a pilot clinical trial, three FMD cycles decreased risk factors/biomarkers for aging, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer without major adverse effects, providing support for the use of FMDs to promote healthspan.


Brandhorst, S, et al. (2015), ‘A Periodic Diet that Mimics Fasting Promotes Multi-System Regeneration, Enhanced Cognitive Performance, and Healthspan.’, Cell Metab, 22 (1), 86-99. PubMed: 26094889