Dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) is an important solvent that is widely used in industry and medical studies, as well as in the study of aging, in which it is used as a negative control for lifespan assays; however, our data showed that 0.5% and 2% DMSO extended the lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans by 24.4% and 23.0% (the first trial), respectively. Treatment with 0.5% DMSO did not affect the progeny number or the lifespan of C. elegans under thermal stress. Using real time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), we found that the expression levels of hsp-16.2, hsp-70, lys-7, old-1, and sod-5 were enhanced by 2.5, 2.9, 1.3, 2.3, and 4.5-fold, respectively, after treatment with 0.5% DMSO. This suggests that these genes downstream of DAF-16 might function in the lifespan extension properties of DMSO. Using the transgenic strain lys-7::GFP, we found that treatment with 0.5% DMSO also caused expression levels of lys-7 increased by 1.5-fold. Genetic analysis using mutants of aging-related genes showed that lifespan extension in C. elegans by DMSO was dependent on sir-2.1 and daf-16 but not eat-2 or hsf-1. In summary, we report the function and the putative mechanism of DMSO in lifespan extension of C. elegans. This study draws attention to using DMSO as a solvent when conducting aging studies.
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