, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 513-529
Date: 30 Aug 2013

Fasting can protect young and middle-aged Drosophila melanogaster flies against a severe cold stress

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Flies were starved with water before being subjected to various severe stresses (heat, cold, fungal infection, hydrogen peroxide) immediately after starvation or after a delay. Starvation of young and middle-aged flies increased resistance to a long cold stress (0 °C for up to 48 h), mainly if there was a 2–6 h delay between starvation and the cold stress, but positive effects in old flies were hardly observed. No positive effect was observed on resistance to the other stresses and starvation rather decreased resistance to them. It thus seems that fasting increases frailty but also puts at play mechanisms increasing resistance to cold. Starvation also increased learning scores but this could be linked to decreased positive phototaxis tendencies, and not to a better learning ability. Starvation appears to be a mild stress with limited hormetic effects, but studying the mechanisms of these effects is of interest because fasting is maybe of therapeutic value in human beings.