Brain Res. 2013 May 1;1508:1-8.
While moderate calorie restriction (CR) in the absence of malnutrition has been consistently shown to have a systemic, beneficial effect against aging in several animals models, its effect on the brain microstructure in a non-human primate model remains to be studied using post-mortem histopathologic techniques. In the present study, we investigated differences in expression levels of glial fibrillary acid protein (GFAP) and β-amyloid plaque load in the hippocampus and the adjacent cortical areas of 7 Control (ad libitum)-fed and 6 CR male rhesus macaques using immunostaining methods. CR monkeys expressed significantly lower levels (~30% on average) of GFAP than Controls in the CA region of the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex, suggesting a protective effect of CR in limiting astrogliosis. These results recapitulate the neuroprotective effects of CR seen in shorter-lived animal models. There was a significant positive association between age and average amyloid plaque pathology in these animals, but there was no significant difference in amyloid plaque distribution between the two groups. Two of the seven Control animals (28.6%) and one of the six CR animal (16.7%) did not express any amyloid plaques, five of seven Controls (71.4%) and four of six CR animals (66.7%) expressed minimal to moderate amyloid pathology, and one of six CR animals (16.7%) expressed severe amyloid pathology. That CR affects levels of GFAP expression but not amyloid plaque load provides some insight into the means by which CR is beneficial at the microstructural level, potentially by offsetting the increased load of oxidatively damaged proteins, in this non-human primate model of aging. The present study is a preliminary post-mortem histological analysis of the effects of CR on brain health, and further studies using molecular and biochemical techniques are warranted to elucidate underlying mechanisms.