Calycophyllum spruceanum (Benth.), the Amazonian "Tree of Youth" Prolongs Longevity and Enhances Stress Resistance in Caenorhabditis elegans

Molecules. 2018 Feb 27;23(3):534. doi: 10.3390/molecules23030534.


The tree popularly known in Brazil as mulateiro or pau-mulato (Calycophyllum spruceanum (Benth.) K. Schum.) is deeply embedded in the herbal medicine of the Amazon region. Different preparations of the bark are claimed to have anti-aging, antioxidant, antimicrobial, emollient, wound healing, hemostatic, contraceptive, stimulant, and anti-diabetic properties. The current study aims to provide the first step towards a science-based evidence of the beneficial effects of C. spruceanum in the promotion of longevity and in the modulation of age-related markers. For this investigation, we used the model system Caenorhabditis elegans to evaluate in vivo antioxidant and anti-aging activity of a water extract from C. spruceanum. To chemically characterize the extract, HPLC MS (High Performance Liquid Chromatography Mass Spectrometry)/MS analyses were performed. Five secondary metabolites were identified in the extract, namely gardenoside, 5-hydroxymorin, cyanidin, taxifolin, and 5-hydroxy-6-methoxycoumarin-7-glucoside. C. spruceanum extract was able to enhance stress resistance and to extend lifespan along with attenuation of aging-associated markers in C. elegans. The demonstrated bioactivities apparently depend on the DAF-16/FOXO pathway. The data might support the popular claims of mulateiro as the "tree of youth", however more studies are needed to clarify its putative benefits to human health.

Keywords: Caenorhabditis elegans; Calycophyllum spruceanum; aging; antioxidants; oxidative stress.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological / drug effects*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / chemistry
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / drug effects*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / physiology*
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins / genetics
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Longevity / drug effects*
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Plants, Medicinal / chemistry*
  • Quantitative Trait, Heritable
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Rubiaceae / chemistry*
  • Stress, Physiological / drug effects*


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antioxidants
  • Caenorhabditis elegans Proteins
  • Phytochemicals
  • Plant Extracts
  • Reactive Oxygen Species