Açaí (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) modulates oxidative stress resistance in Caenorhabditis elegans by direct and indirect mechanisms

PLoS One. 2014 Mar 3;9(3):e89933. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0089933. eCollection 2014.


Açaí (Euterpe oleracea Mart.) has recently emerged as a promising source of natural antioxidants. Despite its claimed pharmacological and nutraceutical value, studies regarding the effects of açaí in vivo are limited. In this study, we use the Caenorhabditis elegans model to evaluate the in vivo antioxidant properties of açaí on an organismal level and to examine its mechanism of action. Supplementation with açaí aqueous extract (AAE) increased both oxidative and osmotic stress resistance independently of any effect on reproduction and development. AAE suppressed bacterial growth, but this antimicrobial property did not influence stress resistance. AAE-increased stress resistance was correlated with reduced ROS production, the prevention of sulfhydryl (SH) level reduction and gcs-1 activation under oxidative stress conditions. Our mechanistic studies indicated that AAE promotes oxidative stress resistance by acting through DAF-16 and the osmotic stress response pathway OSR-1/UNC-43/SEK-1. Finally, AAE increased polyglutamine protein aggregation and decreased proteasome activity. Our findings suggest that natural compounds available in AAE can improve the antioxidant status of a whole organism under certain conditions by direct and indirect mechanisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / drug effects*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / metabolism
  • Euterpe / chemistry*
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells
  • Humans
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Antioxidants
  • Plant Extracts

Grants and funding

This work received financial support from the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq Process 473015/2008 0), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa de Minas Gerais (FAPEMIG Process CBBAPQ- 01153-08 and CBB-PPM-00491-10) and Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto (UFOP). Research fellowships were sponsored by CAPES (Bonomo, L.F.; Boasquivis, P.F.; de Paula, I.T.B.R; Guerra, J.F.C.), CNPq (Oliveira, R.P., Pedrosa, M.L., Silva, M.E.), FAPEMIG (Paiva, F.A.; Silva, D.N.) and UFOP (Caneschi, W.L.). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.