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PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37215. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037215. Epub 2012 May 15.

Caloric restriction suppresses microglial activation and prevents neuroapoptosis following cortical injury in rats.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology, Institute for Biological Research, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Republic of Serbia.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a widespread cause of death and a major source of adult disability. Subsequent pathological events occurring in the brain after TBI, referred to as secondary injury, continue to damage surrounding tissue resulting in substantial neuronal loss. One of the hallmarks of the secondary injury process is microglial activation resulting in increased cytokine production. Notwithstanding that recent studies demonstrated that caloric restriction (CR) lasting several months prior to an acute TBI exhibits neuroprotective properties, understanding how exactly CR influences secondary injury is still unclear. The goal of the present study was to examine whether CR (50% of daily food intake for 3 months) alleviates the effects of secondary injury on neuronal loss following cortical stab injury (CSI). To this end, we examined the effects of CR on the microglial activation, tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) and caspase-3 expression in the ipsilateral (injured) cortex of the adult rats during the recovery period (from 2 to 28 days) after injury. Our results demonstrate that CR prior to CSI suppresses microglial activation, induction of TNF-α and caspase-3, as well as neurodegeneration following injury. These results indicate that CR strongly attenuates the effects of secondary injury, thus suggesting that CR may increase the successful outcome following TBI.

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