Trehalose extends longevity in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans

Aging Cell. 2010 Aug;9(4):558-69. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2010.00582.x. Epub 2010 May 6.


Trehalose is a disaccharide of glucose found in diverse organisms and is suggested to act as a stress protectant against heat, cold, desiccation, anoxia, and oxidation. Here, we demonstrate that treatment of Caenorhabditis elegans with trehalose starting from the young-adult stage extended the mean life span by over 30% without any side effects. Surprisingly, trehalose treatment starting even from the old-adult stage shortly thereafter retarded the age-associated decline in survivorship and extended the remaining life span by 60%. Demographic analyses of age-specific mortality rates revealed that trehalose extended the life span by lowering age-independent vulnerability. Moreover, trehalose increased the reproductive span and retarded the age-associated decrease in pharyngeal-pumping rate and the accumulation of lipofuscin autofluorescence. Trehalose also enhanced thermotolerance and reduced polyglutamine aggregation. These results suggest that trehalose suppressed aging by counteracting internal or external stresses that disrupt protein homeostasis. On the other hand, the life span-extending effect of trehalose was abolished in long-lived insulin/IGF-1-like receptor (daf-2) mutants. RNA interference-mediated inactivation of the trehalose-biosynthesis genes trehalose-6-phosphate synthase-1 (tps-1) and tps-2, which are known to be up-regulated in daf-2 mutants, decreased the daf-2 life span. These findings indicate that a reduction in insulin/IGF-1-like signaling extends life span, at least in part, through the aging-suppressor function of trehalose. Trehalose may be a lead compound for potential nutraceutical intervention of the aging process.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / drug effects*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism
  • Fluorescence
  • Lipofuscin / metabolism
  • Longevity / drug effects*
  • Peptides / chemistry
  • Peptides / metabolism
  • Pharynx / drug effects
  • Pharynx / physiology
  • Protein Structure, Quaternary
  • RNA Interference / drug effects
  • Reproduction / drug effects
  • Survival Analysis
  • Temperature
  • Trehalose / pharmacology*


  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Lipofuscin
  • Peptides
  • polyglutamine
  • Trehalose