First the good news: a study by scientists at the Buck Institute for Age Research shows four common antioxidants extended lifespan in the nematode worm C. elegans. And the not such good news: those four were among 40 antioxidants tested, the majority of which did nothing or caused harm to the microscopic worms.
The findings highlight the complexity of biological processes involved in aging and sends a cautionary signal to consumers who take antioxidants assuming the supplements will help them live longer, healthier lives. Results of the study now appear in the online edition of Experimental Gerontology.
In 2000, Buck Institute scientists made the landmark discovery that a chemical compound could extend the lifespan of simple animals. This discovery fuelled speculation that human lifespan could be extended with similar antioxidant compounds. In this follow up study, the scientists chose antioxidants readily available at health food stores along with those commonly used by chemists in various skin care or food products. The four which extended lifespan (by 15% - 20%) in the nematodes are Lipoic acid, Propyl gallate, Trolox and Taxifolin.
“We’ve taken a careful look at the way antioxidants affect aging in simple animals and what we find is that it’s a hodge-podge of effects,” said Buck Faculty member Gordon Lithgow, PhD, lead author of the study. “We see antioxidants that appear to make simple invertebrates live healthier, longer lives and we also find antioxidants that have precisely the opposite effect, that compromise the animal’s survival,” he said.
Scientists have been testing the effects of compounds with antioxidant properties for nearly 25 years. Studies have been based on the theory that free radicals (unpaired electrons produced during normal metabolism) are toxic to most molecules, and that oxidative damage from these highly reactive electrons accumulates over time and either causes or contributes to aging and age-related disease. Antioxidants are believed to either protect against or repair damage caused by oxidative stress. No precise mechanism of action, as it relates to aging, has been identified for antioxidants. Earlier studies on the four life-extending antioxidants point to different mechanisms of action for each of the compounds.
“I’m an optimist, I think we can make positive statements about the potential for intervening in aging with compounds that manage oxidative stress,” said Lithgow. “I’m also saying that we’re not there yet, and if only four of the 40 compounds are having the desired effect, that’s not good when we think about applying these results to humans today.”
In the Buck Institute study, results from experiments involving Lipoic acid highlight the lack of understanding of basic biological processes, Lithgow said. While Lipoic acid, at a particular dosage, did make the worms resistant to stress and extended their lifespan, it also reduced the fertility of the animals. At lower dosages Lipoic acid actually made the animals more sensitive to stress and reduced their survival. Further studies on the mechanisms by which Lipoic acid and the other three compounds extend lifespan are now underway.
“There’s still a big gap in our understanding of how these compounds work,” said Lithgow. “I think what we’ve got to do is be very careful. If consumers are looking at a product that makes an anti-aging claim, they need to investigate that claim and see where the evidence comes from,” he said.
Other researchers involved in the study include Buck scientists Michael G. Benedetti, Amanda L. Foster, Maithili C. Vantipalli, Mark P. White, James N. Sampayo, Matthew S. Gill and Anders Olsen. The work was funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Ellison Medical Foundation and the Larry L. Hillblom Foundation, as well as a gift from Ralph Menzel. The COPAS BIO-SORT system used in the research was a generous gift from The Glenn Foundation for Medical Research and the Herbert Simon Foundation.About the Buck Institute:
Kris Rebillot | Newswise Science News
Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland
Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke
Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.
The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.
Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...
Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.
Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...
In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.
Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.
Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...
20.03.2017 | Event News
14.03.2017 | Event News
07.03.2017 | Event News
27.03.2017 | Earth Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences
27.03.2017 | Life Sciences