Scientists are using the latest analytical tools to find out how intermittent fasting improves liver health and help prevent disease. Researchers at the University of Sydney used an analytical tool called multi-Omics to look at the effects of every-other-day-fasting in mice. Their results were published in the journal Cell Reports.
Every-other-day-fasting, where food is eaten on alternate days, has been shown to help prevent disease and improve liver health. The researchers at the University of Sydney used a technique called multi-Omics to look more closely at how proteins and genes are altered in the liver of mice. Multi-Omics allowed them to integrate huge amount of data to discover new associations within biological systems.
HNF4-(alpha) Protein Inhibited
The researchers studied the impact on proteins in the livers of mice, which are suitable human biological models. They looked at liver changes in the mice after they went on the every-other-day-fasting diet. They discovered one particular protein, HNF4-(alpha), is inhibited in these mice.
HNF4-(alpha) regulates a large number of genes in the liver. It also lowers the abundance of blood proteins in inflammation or affects bile synthesis. HNF4-(alpha)’s role in intermittent fasting was previously unknown.
Changed Fatty Acid Metabolism
Another finding was that the every-other-day-fasting affected the metabolism of fatty acids in the liver. This knowledge may have practical applications in the future for helping regulate diabetes.
“What’s really exciting is that this new knowledge about the role of HNF4-(alpha) means it could be possible to mimic some of the effects of intermittent fasting through the development of liver-specific HNF4-(alpha) regulators,” said Mark Larance, the senior author of the paper.
Another potential application of the findings of this study is using the information to determine optimum fasting periods to regulate protein response in the liver.
Intermittent fasting has health benefits. As scientists understand what is happening at a molecular level, they may be able to isolate the biological pathways that lead to these health benefits.