Calorie-reduced diets stop the normal rise and fall in activity levels of close to 900 different genes linked to ageing and memory formation in the brain, the findings showed.

"Our study shows how calorie restriction practically arrests gene expression levels involved in the aging phenotype; how some genes determine the behaviour of mice, people, and other mammals as they get old," said senior study investigator Stephen Ginsberg, neuroscientist, New York University (NYU) Langone Medical Center in Manhattan.

The study does not mean calorie restriction is the "fountain of youth", but it does "add evidence for the role of diet in delaying the effects of aging and age-related disease", Ginsberg explained.

For the study, female mice, which like people are more prone to dementia than males, were fed food pellets that had 30 percent fewer calories than those fed to other mice.

Tissue analysis of the hippocampal region, an area of the brain affected earliest in Alzheimer's disease, were performed on mice in middle and late adulthood to assess any difference in gene expression over time.

The findings were presented at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in Washington, DC.

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