Page last updated: November 27, 2012
Wine compound found to extend life in bee study
The July, 2012 issue of the journal Aging reported the results of research involving honey bees which revealed an ability for resveratrol to reduce food intake and extend life.  Resveratrol, a compound found in red grapes and wine, has been found to provide some of the benefits of calorie restriction. Previous studies have shown that resveratrol lengthens the lives of yeast, worms, fruit flies and mice, but this study is the first to evaluate the effect of the compound in honey bees.The research team compared the effects of an unenhanced honey bee diet to diets containing two different concentrations of resveratrol.  The lower concentration of resveratrol was associated with a 38% increase in average lifespan and the higher concentration with a 33% increase under normal oxygen conditions.  Maximum lifespan, which defines the longest lived members of a species (in contrast with average life expectancy) also increased in resveratrol-fed bees.  Exposure of the bees to a high oxygen environment designed to generate oxidative stress eliminated these effects. In an effort to uncover the mechanisms involved in resveratrol’s benefits, the researchers examined the compound’s effect on appetite. In comparison with bees that did not receive resveratrol, those given the compound had less interest in consuming sugar solutions unless the sugar was highly concentrated. Resveratrol was also found to reduce food consumption in bees allowed to eat as much as they liked of diets containing carbohydrate and protein. “Surprisingly, the bees that received the antioxidant compound decreased their food intake,” Dr Rascón reported. “The bees were allowed to eat as much as they pleased and were certainly not starving--they simply would not gorge on the food that we know they like. It’s possible resveratrol may be working by some mechanism that is related to caloric restriction – a dietary regimen long known to extend lifespan in diverse organisms.” The authors state that the study demonstrated that resveratrol significantly affected gustatory responsiveness and prolonged lifespan in wild-type honey bees under normal oxygen conditions. The anticipate that subsequent projects in honey bees will focus on using pharmacological agents to explore whether there is a SIRT1-dependence for the lifespan and neurophysiological effects noted here. Source: The lifespan extension effects of resveratrol are conserved in the honey bee and may be driven by a mechanism related to caloric restriction. Rascón B, Hubbard BP, Sinclair DA, Amdam GV. Aging.  2012 Jul;4(7):499-508.
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