Research highlight

Medical research: A ‘sweet treat’ that extends the life of mice

Nature Communications

April 9, 2014

A widely used dietary supplement taken by patients with arthritis extends the life of worms and of ageing mice, a study published in Nature Communications reports. The sugar-related chemical D-glucosamine, which is considered safe for use in humans and is available without prescription, achieved this lifespan extension by mimicking the molecular effects of a diet low in carbohydrates.

Chemicals that extend organismal lifespan are highly sought after, but not many have been found to reproducibly increase the lifespan of mice, and even fewer are generally considered safe for use in humans. Michael Ristow and colleagues administered the amino-sugar D-glucosamine to comparatively ‘old’ mice of roughly two years of age and found that it increased the lifespan of mice of both sexes. Studying the mechanistic basis of the effect in worms, the researchers showed that D-glucosamine reduced glucose metabolism and increased amino acid turnover.

Given that D-glucosamine has been long used by humans and even high doses are commonly considered safe, the authors suggest that D-glucosamine could be readily available for interventions to extend healthspan or lifespan in humans.

doi: 10.1038/ncomms4563

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