Preservation of brain integrity with age is highly associated with lifespan determination. Caloric restriction (CR) has been shown to increase longevity and healthspan in various species; however, its effects on preserving living brain functions in aging remain largely unexplored. In the study, we used multimodal, non-invasive neuroimaging (PET/MRI/MRS) to determine in vivo brain glucose metabolism, energy metabolites, and white matter structural integrity in young and old mice fed with either control or 40% CR diet. In addition, we determined the animals’ memory and learning ability with behavioral assessments. Blood glucose, blood ketone bodies, and body weight were also measured. We found distinct patterns between normal aging and CR aging on brain functions - normal aging showed reductions in brain glucose metabolism, white matter integrity, and long-term memory, resembling human brain aging. CR aging, in contrast, displayed an early shift from glucose to ketone bodies metabolism, which was associated with preservations of brain energy production, white matter integrity, and long-term memory in aging mice. Among all the mice, we found a positive correlation between blood glucose level and body weight, but an inverse association between blood glucose level and lifespan. Our findings suggest that CR could slow down brain aging, in part due to the early shift of energy metabolism caused by lower caloric intake, and we were able to identify the age-dependent effects of CR non-invasively using neuroimaging. These results provide a rationale for CR-induced sustenance of brain health with extended longevity
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