Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Acai counteracts oxidative stress, lengthens lifespan in fruit flies

Date:
August 21, 2012
Source:
Emory University
Summary:
Scientists found that a commercially available acai berry product can lengthen the lives of fruit flies, when the flies' lives are made short through additional oxidative stress. Under certain conditions (a simple sugar diet) acai supplementation could triple flies' lifespans, from eight to 24 days. Acai could also counteract the neurotoxic effects of the herbicide paraquat on the flies.

Under certain conditions (a simple sugar diet), dietary supplementation with acai could triple fruit flies' lifespans. The flies' lives were made shorter by a mutation that made them more sensitive to oxidative stress.
Credit: Image courtesy of Emory University

Bewildered by the array of antioxidant fruit juices on display in the supermarket and the promises they make? To sort out the antioxidant properties of fruits and berries, scientists at Emory University School of Medicine turned to fruit flies for help.

They found that a commercially available acai berry product can lengthen the lives of fruit flies, when the flies' lives are made short through additional oxidative stress. Under certain conditions (a simple sugar diet) acai supplementation could triple flies' lifespans, from eight to 24 days. Acai could also counteract the neurotoxic effects of the herbicide paraquat on the flies.

The results were recently published by the journal Experimental Gerontology, which awarded the paper its inaugural "Outstanding paper" prize. The lead author is Alysia Vrailas-Mortimer, a postdoctoral fellow in Emory University School of Medicine's Department of Cell Biology.

Vrailas-Mortimer says she didn't start out focusing on acai. But acai worked better than several other antioxidant products such as vitamins, coenzyme Q10 and lutein.

"One thing that makes our work distinctive is that we tried commercially available supplements," she says. "We went to a health food store and filled up a basket."

She says she began the project with the help of undergraduate student Rosy Gomez, and narrowed her focus after initial success with acai. Vrailas-Mortimer took advantage of a discovery she had made working with Subhabrata Sanyal, assistant professor of cell biology, PhD. They had previously found that flies with mutations in the "p38 MAP kinase" gene have shorter lives and are more sensitive to heat, food deprivation and oxidative stress.

P38 mutant flies lived an average of only eight days when they were given a simple sugar water diet. However, their lifespans tripled when their diet was supplemented with acai. Ginger was used as a control for the diet supplements.

Acai also protected normal flies against oxidative stress, in the form of hydrogen peroxide or paraquat. Acai can protect against oxidative stress when flies are exposed to hydrogen peroxide before being given acai, but the protective effect does not hold up if the order is reversed.

Paraquat is an herbicide that has neurotoxic effects that resemble Parkinson's disease. Under the influence of paraquat, flies' sleep-wake cycles gradually become chaotic (see graph). Acai can also help soften the effects of paraquat on flies' circadian rhythms.

"I think this is important," Vrailas-Mortimer says. "We show that whatever is in acai that is lengthening lifespan, it can also keep the flies functioning better for longer when faced with paraquat exposure. It is maintaining quality of life rather than just preventing them from dying."

When flies were fed a more enriched diet of a standard cornmeal/molasses mush, the effects of supplementation with acai were more pronounced in males than in females. Males' lifespans were almost doubled with acai (20 to 40 days) but the effects on females were not as strong (30 to 34 days). On an enriched diet, male flies were more sensitive to paraquat than females as well.

Implications for human clinical trials of antioxidants

Large clinical trials studying the effects of antioxidants such as vitamin C and E have not shown clear benefits on human health. Using fruit flies under oxidative stress as a model can be a way to dissect which components of acai are beneficial. Probing the effects on flies' circadian rhythms can be a way to quickly screen several compounds or regimens, since the effects are apparent even before most of the flies die.

Acai berries contain a variety of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds, such as anthocyanins. Sanyal says it may be better to study the components of acai together rather than in isolation.

"There may be a combinatorial effect, and if you separate the components from each other, you may lose the active principle," he says. "In addition, it seems to me that anti-oxidant therapy will not work after the damage has been done. So human clinical trials that don't take this into account are likely to have disappointing results."

The research was supported by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (T32-ES012870) and Emory University.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Emory University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alysia Vrailas-Mortimer, Rosy Gomez, Harold Dowse, Subhabrata Sanyal. A survey of the protective effects of some commercially available antioxidant supplements in genetically and chemically induced models of oxidative stress in Drosophila melanogaster. Experimental Gerontology, 2012; 47 (9): 712 DOI: 10.1016/j.exger.2012.06.016

Cite This Page:

Emory University. "Acai counteracts oxidative stress, lengthens lifespan in fruit flies." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120821115005.htm>.
Emory University. (2012, August 21). Acai counteracts oxidative stress, lengthens lifespan in fruit flies. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120821115005.htm
Emory University. "Acai counteracts oxidative stress, lengthens lifespan in fruit flies." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120821115005.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

How 'Yes Means Yes' Defines Sexual Assault

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Aimed at reducing sexual assaults on college campuses, California has adopted a new law changing the standard of consent for sexual activity. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Scientists May Have Found An Early Sign Of Pancreatic Cancer

Newsy (Sep. 29, 2014) Researchers looked at 1,500 blood samples and determined people who developed pancreatic cancer had more branched chain amino acids. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

Colo. Doctors See Cluster of Enterovirus Cases

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

Dr.'s Unsure of Cause of Fast-Spreading Virus

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) Doctors at the Children's Hospital of Colorado say they have treated over 4,000 children with serious respiratory illnesses since August. Nine of the patients have shown distinct neurological symptoms, including limb weakness. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins