Ethanol and Nematode Life Span

An interesting result, albeit with no immediate application - it is perhaps surprising that this wasn't discovered long ago, given the common uses of ethanol in the laboratory: "Minuscule amounts of ethanol, the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, can more than double the life span of a tiny worm known as Caenorhabditis elegans, which is used frequently as a model in aging studies. ... The worms normally live for about 15 days and can survive with nothing to eat for roughly 10 to 12 days. ... Our finding is that tiny amounts of ethanol can make them survive 20 to 40 days. ... Initially, [researchers] intended to test the effect of cholesterol on the worms ... The scientists fed the worms cholesterol, and the worms lived longer, apparently due to the cholesterol. They had dissolved the cholesterol in ethanol, often used as a solvent, which they diluted 1,000-fold. ... It's just a solvent, but it turns out the solvent was having the longevity effect. The cholesterol did nothing. We found that not only does ethanol work at a 1-to-1,000 dilution, it works at a 1-to-20,000 dilution. That tiny bit shouldn't have made any difference, but it turns out it can be so beneficial. ... It's possible there is a trivial explanation, but I don't think that's the case. We know that if we increase the ethanol concentration, they do not live longer. This extremely low level is the maximum that is beneficial for them. ... What is even more interesting is the fact that the worms are in a stressed developmental stage. At high magnifications under the microscope, it was amazing to see how the worms given a little ethanol looked significantly more robust than worms not given ethanol."



Either one of the most significant longevity research findings in years, or one of the most revealing exposes on faulty lab research in years (as it would negate many prior worm studies). I see no down side to maintaining an eye dropper bottle of ethanol and adding a few porportioned drops to my mourning vita mix.

Posted by: JohnD at January 23rd, 2012 10:28 AM

If it's hormesis, then the failure to observe wouldn't be so surprising.

Posted by: gwern at January 23rd, 2012 10:45 AM
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