The impact of intermittent fasting on brain-derived neurotrophic factor, neurotrophin 3, and rat behavior in a rat model of type 2 diabetes mellitus

Basem H. Elesawy, Bassem M. Raafat, Aya Al Muqbali, Amr M. Abbas, Hussein F. Sakr*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is known to be associated with an increased risk of dementia, specifically Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. Intermittent fasting (IF) has been proposed to produce neuroprotective effects through the activation of several signaling pathways. In this study, we investigated the effect of IF on rat behavior in type 2 diabetic rats. Forty male Wistar Kyoto rats were divided into four groups (n = 10 for each): the ad libitum (Ad) group, the intermittent fasting group (IF), the streptozotocin-induced diabetic 2 group (T2DM) fed a high-fat diet for 4 weeks followed by a single intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection of streptozotocin (STZ) 25, and the diabetic group with intermittent fasting (T2DM+IF). We evaluated the impact of 3 months of IF (16 h of food deprivation daily) on the levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), neurotrophin 3 (NT3), serotonin, dopamine, and glutamate in the hippocampus, and rat behavior was assessed by the forced swim test and elevated plus maze. IF for 12 weeks significantly increased (p < 0.05) the levels of NT3 and BDNF in both control and T2DM rats. Additionally, it increased serotonin, dopamine, and glutamic acid in diabetic rats. Moreover, IF modulated glucose homeostasis parameters, with a significant decrease (p < 0.05) in insulin resistance and downregulation of serum corticosterone level. Interestingly, T2DM rats showed a significant increase in anxiety and depression behaviors, which were ameliorated by IF. These findings suggest that IF could produce a potentially protective effect by increasing the levels of BDNF and NT3 in both control and T2DM rats. IF could be considered as an additional therapy for depression, anxiety, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number242
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • BDNF
  • Behavior
  • Intermittent fasting
  • Neurotrophin 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

Cite this