Identification of longevity compounds with minimized probabilities of side effects

Biogerontology. 2020 Dec;21(6):709-719. doi: 10.1007/s10522-020-09887-7. Epub 2020 Jun 19.


It is hypothesized that treating the general aging population with compounds that slow aging, geroprotectors, could provide many benefits to society, including a reduction of age-related diseases. It is intuitive that such compounds should cause minimal side effects, since they would be distributed to otherwise healthy individuals for extended periods of time. The question therefore emerges of how we should prioritize geroprotectors discovered in model organisms for clinical testing in humans. In other words, which compounds are least likely to cause harm, while still potentially providing benefit? To systematically answer this question we queried the DrugAge database-containing hundreds of known geroprotectors-and cross-referenced this with a recently published repository of compound side effect predictions. In total, 124 geroprotectors were associated to 800 unique side effects. Geroprotectors with high risks of side effects, some even with risk for death, included lamotrigine and minocycline, while compounds with low side effect risks included spermidine and D-glucosamine. Despite their popularity as top geroprotector candidates for humans, sirolimus and metformin harbored greater risks of side effects than many other candidate geroprotectors, sirolimus being the more severe of the two. Furthermore, we found that a correlation existed between maximum lifespan extension in worms and the likelihood of causing a side effect, suggesting that extreme lifespan extension in model organisms should not necessarily be the priority when screening for novel geroprotectors. We discuss the implications of our findings for prioritizing geroprotectors, suggesting spermidine and D-glucosamine for clinical trials in humans.

Keywords: D-Glucosamine; Geroprotectors; Hormesis; Side effects; Spermidine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging* / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Databases, Factual
  • Drug-Related Side Effects and Adverse Reactions
  • Glucosamine / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Longevity* / drug effects
  • Metformin*
  • Mice
  • Probability
  • Spermidine / pharmacology


  • Metformin
  • Glucosamine
  • Spermidine