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Biological Chemistry

Supplement Extends Life Of Worms, Mice

by Stu Borman
April 14, 2014 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 92, ISSUE 15

Some osteoarthritis patients buy over-the-counter glucosamine-based dietary supplements to promote joint health and relieve pain, even though NIH studies of the supplements have shown that placebos relieve pain nearly as well. But it now appears that the natural amino sugar may also relieve death—that is, may cause greater longevity, at least in worms and mice. Michael Ristow of ETH Zurich and coworkers report that glucosamine extends life span in the worm Caenorhabditiselegans and in aging mice (Nat. Commun. 2014, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms4563). They find the mechanism to be lowering of blood glucose levels; production of greater numbers of mitochondria, which produce reactive oxygen species that possibly help protect cells; and a partial switch over from glucose metabolism to amino acid oxidation. They note that glucosamine mimics low-carbohydrate diets, which have previously been found to promote metabolic health in a similar way. “Glucosamine is safe for human use even at high doses, making it readily available for interventions to extend human health span,” the researchers write.

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