Plain English Summary
Background and study aims
Diet is one of the main factors related to gene expression and methylation. There are some genes for which a high level of expression or methylation is protective against ageing or cardiometabolic disease. For other genes increased gene expression is detrimental. Energy restriction or even fasting has been related to protection against ageing and some metabolic diseases. This protection may be mediated by a better autophagy function in animal models. However, the results in humans are scarce. Therefore, the aim of this study is to analyze the influence of a 24-hour fast compared to a pattern of frequent meals in the expression and methylation of selected genes related to autophagy and biological age in adults from a healthy general population.
Who can participate?
Healthy men and women from the general population (aged 25-50 years)
What does the study involve?
Two interventions are compared in a crossover design (each participant receives both interventions in a random order): a) fasting for 24 hours and b) a pattern of frequent meals (consisting of eating 6 times a day with a 3-hour period between each intake). The intake consists of a Mediterranean diet pattern composed of complex carbohydrates, mainly brown rice, vegetables, white meat in the form of chicken, and fruit. The intervention and follow-up are 2 days each, with a "wash-out" period of 2 weeks between interventions.
What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Participants will be informed that there are no benefits and risks expected.
Where is the study run from?
University of Valencia (Spain)
When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
October 2019 to December 2020
Who is funding the study?
University of Valencia (Spain)
Who is the main contact?
Prof. José V. Sorlí
Effect of 24-hour fasting versus frequent meals on selected gene expression and methylation: a cross-over randomized and controlled trial
The hypothesis is that short-term fasting, in comparison with a frequent meal pattern, can modify the expression level and/or the methylation of some genes, mainly, those related to autophagy.
Approved 05/12/2019, Institutional review board of Valencia University (human subjects) (Avda. Blasco Ibanez 13, Valencia, 46010, Spain; +34 (0)963864109; firstname.lastname@example.org), ref: UV-INV_ETICA-1205601
Interventional randomised cross over trial
Primary study design
Secondary study design
Randomised cross over trial
Patient information sheet
Not available in web format, please use contact details to request a participant information sheet.
Effect of fasting and a regular meal pattern on gene expression
This is a short term cross-over randomized trial including 10 participants. Participants will be randomly assigned 1:1 to the order of the two interventions by simple random assignment through a computer program:
1. Fasting for 24 hours
2. Pattern of frequent meals (consisting of eating 6 times a day having a 3 hour period between each intake). The intake will consist of a Mediterranean Diet pattern composed of complex carbohydrates, mainly brown rice, vegetables, white meat in the form of chicken, and fruit.
The intervention and follow-up will be 2 days for each treatment in a crossover design. A "wash-out" period of 2 weeks between treatments will be undertaken.
Primary outcome measure
Methylation and expression of genes related to autophagy measured using DNA and RNA isolated from blood at baseline and after each intervention (at 4 hours)
Secondary outcome measures
1. Fasting glucose and fasting triglycerides measured in fasting plasma by standard procedures from baseline to 4 hours
2. Blood pressure measured from baseline to 4 hours post intervention
3. Weight, height, waist circumference and body composition by bioimpedance measured at baseline
4. Food intake and adherence to the Mediterranean diet measured using the 14-item Mediterranean diet adherence PREDIMED scale at baseline
5. Physical activity measured using the short form of the Minnesota physical activity questionnaire at baseline
6. Sleep characteristics measured using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index questionnaire at baseline
7. Chronotype measured using the Horne and Östberg questionnaire at baseline
Overall trial start date
Overall trial end date
Reason abandoned (if study stopped)
Participant inclusion criteria
1. Volunteers recruited from the general population
2. Between 25 and 50 years old
2. BMI between 23 and 33 kg/m2
Target number of participants
Participant exclusion criteria
3. Immunodeficiency or HIV-positive status
4. Liver cirrhosis or chronic renal failure
5. Serious psychiatric disorders: schizophrenia, bipolar disease, eating disorders, depression, etc
6. Any severe co-morbid condition
7. Alcohol abuse or addiction
8. History of major organ transplantation
9. Concurrent therapy with immunosuppressive drugs or cytotoxic agents
10. Current treatment with systemic corticosteroids
11. Current use of weight loss medication
12. Patients with an acute infection or inflammation
13. Any other condition that may interfere with the completion of the study protocol
Recruitment start date
Recruitment end date
Countries of recruitment
Trial participating centre
University of Valencia
School of Medicine Avda. Blasco Ibanez 15
Trial participating centre
Instituto de Salud Carlos III Calle Sinesio Delgado 10
Universitat de València
University of Valencia, 85|86
Funding Body Type
private sector organisation
Funding Body Subtype
Universities (academic only)
Results and Publications
Publication and dissemination plan
Findings regarding the main hypothesis will be published first in international journals related to nutrition and obesity. Later publications will include further secondary analyses. Posters and oral communications in related scientific meetings are planned.
IPD sharing statement
Data will not be available outside the core research group as the informed consent form signed by participants stated that individual-level data will not be publicly available. Researchers who are interested in this study can contact the main investigator (Dr JV Sorlí) if they have any questions regarding the data or are interested in further collaborations. The participants will receive written information about what the study involves and sign a consent form before entering the study.
Intention to publish date
Participant level data
Not expected to be available
Basic results (scientific)