Tyrosol, a main phenol present in extra virgin olive oil, increases lifespan and stress resistance in Caenorhabditis elegans

Mech Ageing Dev. 2012 Aug;133(8):563-74. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2012.07.004. Epub 2012 Jul 21.


Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) consumption has been traditionally related to a higher longevity in the human population. EVOO effects on health are often attributed to its unique mixture of phenolic compounds with tyrosol and hydroxityrosol being the most biologically active. Although these compounds have been extensively studied in terms of their antioxidant potential and its role in different pathologies, their actual connection with longevity remains unexplored. This study utilized the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans to investigate the possible effects of tyrosol in metazoan longevity. Significant lifespan extension was observed at one specific tyrosol concentration, which also induced a higher resistance to thermal and oxidative stress and delayed the appearance of a biomarker of ageing. We also report that, although tyrosol was efficiently taken up by these nematodes, it did not induce changes in development, body length or reproduction. In addition, lifespan experiments with several mutant strains revealed that components of the heat shock response (HSF-1) and the insulin pathway (DAF-2 and DAF-16) might be implicated in mediating tyrosol effects in lifespan, while caloric restriction and sirtuins do not seem to mediate its effects. Together, our results point to hormesis as a possible mechanism to explain the effects of tyrosol on longevity in C. elegans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Humans
  • Longevity / drug effects*
  • Longevity / physiology
  • Olive Oil
  • Phenylethyl Alcohol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Phenylethyl Alcohol / chemistry
  • Phenylethyl Alcohol / pharmacology
  • Plant Oils / chemistry*
  • Receptor, Insulin / biosynthesis
  • Receptor, Insulin / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / biosynthesis
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • Antioxidants
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Forkhead Transcription Factors
  • Olive Oil
  • Plant Oils
  • Transcription Factors
  • daf-16 protein, C elegans
  • heat shock factor-1, C elegans
  • 4-hydroxyphenylethanol
  • DAF-2 protein, C elegans
  • Receptor, Insulin
  • Phenylethyl Alcohol