By studying a particularly short-lived fish species, researchers have been able to show that the natural compound resveratrol previously shown to extend lifespan in non-vertebrate organisms can also do so in at least one vertebrate species.
The findings, reported by Alessandro Cellerino of the Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, and colleagues, support the potential utility of the compound in human aging research.
Resveratrol is an organic compound naturally present in grapesand particularly enriched in red wineand was previously shown to prolong lifespan in non-vertebrate model organisms such as yeast, the worm C. elegans, and the fruit fly Drosophila. However, until now, life-long pharmacological trials were performed in the worm or fly model organisms because of their very small size, very short natural lifespan, and affordable cultivation costs.
A small fish species with a captive lifespan of only three months were used to test the effects of resveratrol on aging-related physiological decay. The researchers added resveratrol to daily fish food and found that this treatment increased longevity and also retarded the onset of aging-related decays in memory and muscular performance.
Resveratrol appears to be the first molecule to consistently cause life extension across very different animal groups such as worms, insects, and fish, and it could become the starting molecule for the design drugs for the prevention of human aging-related diseases.
Source: Valenzano DR et al. Resveratrol Prolongs Lifespan and Retards the Onset of Age-Related Markers in a Short-Lived Vertebrate. Current Biology 2006;16:296-300.