Dimethyl sulfoxide and dimethyl formamide increase lifespan of C. elegans in liquid

Mech Ageing Dev. 2013 Mar;134(3-4):69-78. doi: 10.1016/j.mad.2012.10.002. Epub 2013 Jan 11.


Lifespan extension through pharmacological intervention may provide valuable tools to understanding the mechanisms of aging and could uncover new therapeutic approaches for the treatment of age-related disease. Although the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is well known as a particularly suitable model for genetic manipulations, it has been recently used in a number of pharmacological studies searching for compounds with anti-aging activity. These compound screens are regularly performed in amphipathic solvents like dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), the solvent of choice for high-throughput drug screening experiments performed throughout the world. In this work, we report that exposing C. elegans to DMSO in liquid extends lifespan up to 20%. Interestingly, another popular amphipathic solvent, dimethyl formamide (DMF), produces a robust 50% increase in lifespan. These compounds work through a mechanism independent of insulin-like signaling and dietary restriction (DR). Additionally, the mechanism does not involve an increased resistance to free radicals or heat shock suggesting that stress resistance does not play a major role in the lifespan extension elicited by these compounds. Interestingly, we found that DMSO and DMF are able to decrease the paralysis associated with amyloid-β3-42 aggregation, suggesting a role of protein homeostasis for the mechanism elicited by these molecules to increase lifespan.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Body Size
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / growth & development*
  • Chemotaxis
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide / pharmacology*
  • Dimethylformamide / pharmacology*
  • Free Radical Scavengers / pharmacology
  • Free Radicals
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Longevity / drug effects*
  • Peptide Fragments / metabolism
  • Phenotype
  • Signal Transduction
  • Solvents / chemistry
  • Time Factors


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Free Radicals
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Insulin
  • Peptide Fragments
  • Solvents
  • amyloid beta-protein (3-42), pyroglutamyl(3)-
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Dimethylformamide
  • Dimethyl Sulfoxide