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Exp Gerontol. 2014 Mar;51:28-37. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2013.12.005. Epub 2013 Dec 31.

Patterns of intraspecific variability in the response to caloric restriction.

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  • 1Marine Biological Laboratory, 7 MBL St., Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA.
  • 2Marine Biological Laboratory, 7 MBL St., Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA; Northeastern University, 360 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA 02115, USA.
  • 3Marine Biological Laboratory, 7 MBL St., Woods Hole, MA 02543, USA. Electronic address:


Caloric restriction (CR) is cited as the most robust means of increasing lifespan across a range of taxa, yet there is a high degree of variability in the response to CR, both within and between species. To examine the intraspecific evolutionary conservation of lifespan extension by CR, we tested the effects of chronic caloric restriction (CCR) at multiple food levels and of intermittent fasting (IF) in twelve isolates from the Brachionus plicatilis species complex of monogonont rotifers. While CCR generally increased or did not change lifespan and total fecundity, IF caused increased, unchanged, or decreased lifespan, depending upon the isolate, and decreased total fecundity in all but one isolate. Lifespan under ad libitum (AL) feeding varied among isolates and predicted the lifespan response to CR: longer-lived isolates under AL were less likely to have a significant increase in lifespan under CCR and were more likely to have a significantly shortened lifespan under IF. Lifespan under AL conditions and the response to CR were not correlated with hydroperiodicity of native habitat or with time in culture. Lack of trade-off between lifespan and fecundity under CCR, and differences in lifespan and fecundity under CCR and IF, even when average food intake was similar, suggest that longevity changes are not always directly determined by energy intake and that CCR and IF regimens extend lifespan through diverse genetic mechanisms.


Caloric restriction; Evolution of aging; Intermittent fasting; Resource allocation; Rotifer; Trade-off

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