Withanolide A offers neuroprotection, ameliorates stress resistance and prolongs the life expectancy of Caenorhabditis elegans

Exp Gerontol. 2016 Jun;78:47-56. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2016.03.004. Epub 2016 Mar 5.


Withanolide A (steroidal lactone) forms the major constituent of the most popular herbal drug in Ayurvedic medicine, Ashwagandha. It has been used since ancient times as an alternative medicine for the treatment of a variety of age related disorders. Here we provide multiple lines of evidence indicating that Withanolide A improves healthspan, delays age-associated physiological changes and also extends the lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans. We also report several neuroprotective benefits of this natural product, including its anti-amyloidogenic effects, alleviation of α-synuclein aggregation and neuroprotection through modulation of neural mediators like acetylcholine. We observed that Withanolide A mediates lifespan extension and promotes stress resistance via insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling pathway. Such findings could be helpful to develop a therapeutic medicine from this natural product for the prevention or reversal of age-related ailments and to improve the survival of patients suffering from Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.

Keywords: Aging; Caenorhabditis elegans; Insulin/IGF-1 pathway; Neuroprotection; Withanolide A.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / drug effects*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / metabolism*
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I / metabolism
  • Longevity / drug effects*
  • Neuroprotection / drug effects*
  • Oxidative Stress / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Withanolides / pharmacology*
  • alpha-Synuclein / metabolism


  • 3-rhamnopyranosyl(1-4)-glucopyranosyl-12-diacetoxy-20-hydroxywitha-5,24-dienolide
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Insulin
  • Withanolides
  • alpha-Synuclein
  • Insulin-Like Growth Factor I