Mechanistic evaluation of red algal extracts that slow aging
Snare, David Joseph
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Aging results from an accumulation of damage to macromolecules inhibiting cellular replication, repair, and other necessary functions. Damage may be due to environmental stressors such as metal toxicity, oxidative stress caused by imperfections in electron transfer reactions, or other metabolic processes. In an effort to discover medical treatments that counteract this damage, we have initiated a program to search for small molecule drugs from natural sources. We have identified marine red algae as a source of natural products that slow aging of the invertebrate rotifer Brachionus manjavacas. Rotifers are a promising model organism for life extension studies as they maintain a short, measurable lifespan while also having an accepted literature precedent related to aging. Rotifer lifespan was increased 9-14% by exposure to three of 200 screened red algal extracts. Bioassay guided fractionation led to semi-purified extracts composed primarily of lipids responsible for rotifer life extension. The life extending effects of these small molecule mixtures are not a result of their antioxidant capacity; instead they may activate pathways that slow the accumulation of cellular damage. An understanding of how these natural products interact with their molecular targets could lead to selective and efficient treatments for slowing aging and reducing age related diseases.