Aspirin inhibits oxidant stress, reduces age-associated functional declines, and extends lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans

Antioxid Redox Signal. 2013 Feb 10;18(5):481-90. doi: 10.1089/ars.2011.4151. Epub 2012 Sep 7.


Aims: Oxidative stress and inflammation are leading risk factors for age-associated functional declines. We assessed aspirin effects on endogenous oxidative-stress levels, lifespan, and age-related functional declines, in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans.

Results: Both aspirin and its salicylate moiety, at nontoxic concentrations (0.5-1 mM), attenuated endogenous levels of reactive oxygen species (p<0.001), and upregulated antioxidant genes encoding superoxide dismutases (especially sod-3, p<0.001), catalases (especially ctl-2, p<0.0001), and two glutathione-S-transferases (gst-4 and gst-10; each p<0.005). Aspirin, and to a lesser degree salicylate, improved survival of hydrogen peroxide, and in the absence of exogenous stress aspirin extended lifespan by 21%-23% (each p<10(-9)), while salicylate added 14% (p<10(-6)). Aspirin and salicylate delayed age-dependent declines in motility and pharyngeal pumping (each p<0.005), and decreased intracellular protein aggregation (p<0.0001)-all established markers of physiological aging-consistent with slowing of the aging process. Aspirin fails to improve stress resistance or lifespan in nematodes lacking DAF-16, implying that it acts through this FOXO transcription factor.

Innovation: Studies in mice and humans suggest that aspirin may protect against multiple age-associated diseases by reducing all-cause mortality. We now demonstrate that aspirin markedly slows many measures of aging in the nematode.

Conclusions: Aspirin treatment is associated with diminished endogenous oxidant stress and enhanced resistance to exogenous peroxide, both likely mediated by activation of antioxidant defenses. Our evidence indicates that aspirin attenuates insulin-like signaling, thus protecting against oxidative stress, postponing age-associated functional declines and extending C. elegans lifespan under benign conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Aspirin / pharmacology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / drug effects*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Life Expectancy
  • Locomotion
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*


  • Aspirin