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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Blueberry Polyphenols Increase Caenorhabditis Elegans Survival During Aging and Thermal Stress

Authors
item Wilson, Mark - NAT.INST. ON AGING-NEUROS
item Shukitt-Hale, Barbara
item Kalt, Wihelmina - AGRI & AGRI-FOOD CANADA
item Ingram, Donald - NAT.INST. ON AGING-NEUROS
item Joseph, James
item Wolkow, Catherine - NAT.INST. ON AGING-NEUROS

Submitted to: Aging Cell
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: November 9, 2005
Publication Date: February 1, 2006
Citation: Wilson, M.A., Shukitt Hale, B., Kalt, W., Ingram, D.K., Joseph, J.A., Wolkow, C.A. 2006. Blueberry polyphenols increase caenorhabditis elegans survival during aging and thermal stress. Aging Cell. (5):55-68

Interpretive Summary: The beneficial effects of fruits and vegetables containing high levels of polyphenol compounds (antioxidant compounds which have been shown to have anti-aging efects) have mainly been shown in cell models or short-term dietary supplementation studies, with a lack of direct evidence for benefits in whole animals. To examine whether polyphenols can have anti-aging benefits in the whole animal, we have investigated the effects of blueberry polyphenols on lifespan and aging in C. elegans, which is a small worm that is often used in biological and genetic studies. A complex mixture of blueberry polyphenols and a portion rich in proanthocyanidins (a class of nutrients with strong antioxidant activity), increased lifespan and slowed aging-related declines in C.elegans. This effect was temperature-dependent, with relatively greater effects when worms were grown at higher temperatures (heat stress can decrease cell survival). Treatment with blueberry polyphenols increased survival during heat stress, but not oxidative stress. Analysis of the worm's genes showed that the blueberry polyphenols were not affecting the pathways that respond to heat stress, suggesting that these compounds may directly benefit cells. Blueberry polyphenols did not appear to increase longevity by simply destroying or inhibiting the growth of germs. These findings reveal that polyphenolic compounds in blueberries can extend lifespan in whole organisms under certain conditions, possibly by protecting cells against dysfunction due to heat stress during aging.

Technical Abstract: The beneficial effects of fruits and vegetables containing high levels of polyphenol compounds have been mainly extrapolated from in vitro studies or relatively short-term dietary supplementation studies, with a lack of direct evidence for benefits in whole animals. To examine whether polyphenols can confer anti-aging benefits in vivo, we have investigated the effects of blueberry polyphenols on lifespan and aging in the nematode, C.elegans. A complex mixture of blueberry polyphenols, as well as a fraction enriched in proanthocyanidins (PAC), increased longevity and slowed aging-related declines in C.elegans. This effect was temperature-dependant, with relatively greater effects when animals were grown at higher temperatures. Treatment with blueberry polyphenols increased survival during thermal stress, but not acute oxidative stress. Genetic analysis showed that the benefits of blueberry polyphenols were independent of several stress resistance pathways, suggesting that these compounds may directly benefit cells. Blueberry polyphenols did not appear to increase longevity through simple antimicrobial effects. These findings reveal that polyphenolic compounds in blueberries can extend lifespan in hole organisms under certain conditions, and may confer these benefits by protecting cells against dysfunction due to thermal stress during aging.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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