Glycerol extends lifespan of Brachionus manjavacas (Rotifera) and protects against stressors

Exp Gerontol. 2014 Sep;57:47-56. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2014.05.005. Epub 2014 May 14.


Diet has profound effects on animal longevity and manipulation of nutrient sensing pathways is one of the primary interventions capable of lifespan extension. This often is done through caloric restriction (CR) and a variety of CR mimics have been identified that produce life extending effects without adhering to the rigorous CR dietary regimen. Glycerol is a dietary supplement capable mimicking CR by shifting metabolism away from glycolysis and towards oxidative phosphorylation. Glycerol supplementation has a number of beneficial effects, including lifespan extension, improved stress resistance, and enhanced locomotory and mitochondria activity in older age classes. Using rotifers as a model, we show that supplements of 150-300mM glycerol produced 40-50% extension of mean lifespan. This effect was produced by raising glycerol concentration only three times higher than its baseline concentration in rotifer tissues. Glycerol supplementation decreased rotifer reliance on glycolysis and reduced the pro-aging effects of glucose. Glycerol also acted as a chemical chaperone, mitigating damage by protein aggregation. Glycerol treatment improved rotifer swimming performance in older age classes and maintained more mitochondrial activity. Glycerol treatment provided increased resistance to starvation, heat, oxidation, and osmotic stress, but not UV stress. When glycerol was co-administered with the hexokinase inhibitor 2-deoxyglucose, the lifespan extending effect of glycerol was enhanced. Co-administration of glycerol with inhibitors like 2-deoxyglucose can lower their efficacious doses, thereby reducing their toxic side effects.

Keywords: 2-Deoxyglucose; Glycerol; Lifespan; Longevity; Swimming.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cryoprotective Agents / pharmacology*
  • Deoxyglucose
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Glycerol / pharmacology*
  • Longevity / drug effects*
  • Rotifera / drug effects*
  • Stress, Physiological / drug effects*
  • Survival Analysis
  • Swimming


  • Cryoprotective Agents
  • Deoxyglucose
  • Glycerol