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Plant and fungal products that extend lifespan in Caenorhabditis elegans.


The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is a useful model to study aging due to its short lifespan, ease of manipulation, and available genetic tools. Several molecules and extracts derived from plants and fungi extend the lifespan of C. elegans by modulating aging-related pathways that are conserved in more complex organisms. Modulation of aging pathways leads to activation of autophagy, mitochondrial biogenesis and expression of antioxidant and detoxifying enzymes in a manner similar to caloric restriction. Low and moderate concentrations of plant and fungal molecules usually extend lifespan, while high concentrations are detrimental, consistent with a lifespan-modulating mechanism involving hormesis. We review here molecules and extracts derived from plants and fungi that extend the lifespan of C. elegans, and explore the possibility that these natural substances may produce health benefits in humans.

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