To endure prolonged fasting, animals undergo important acute physiological adjustments. However, whether severe fasting also leads to long-term metabolic adaptations is largely unknown. Forty-eight-hour fasting caused a pronounced weight loss in adult C57BL/6 male mice. Seven days of refeeding increased body adiposity to levels above baseline, whereas fasting-induced reductions in lean body mass and energy expenditure were not fully recovered. Respiratory exchange ratio and locomotor activity also remained altered. A fasting/refeeding cycle led to persistent suppression of Pomc mRNA levels and significant changes in the expression of histone deacetylases and DNA methyltransferases in the hypothalamus. Additionally, histone acetylation in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus was reduced by prolonged fasting and remained suppressed after refeeding. Mice subjected to 48-h fasting 30 days earlier exhibited higher body weight and fat mass compared to aged-matched animals that were never food-deprived. Furthermore, a previous fasting experience altered the changes in body weight, lean mass, energy expenditure and locomotor activity induced by a second cycle of fasting and refeeding. Notably, when acutely exposed to high-palatable/high-fat diet, mice that went through cumulative fasting episodes presented higher calorie intake and reduced energy expenditure and fat oxidation, compared to mice that had never been subjected to fasting. When chronically exposed to high-fat diet, mice that experienced cumulative fasting episodes showed higher gain of body and fat mass and reduced energy expenditure and calorie intake. In summary, cumulative episodes of prolonged fasting lead to hypothalamic epigenetic changes and long-lasting metabolic adaptations in mice.
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References

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