Aging & Longevity
Study points to ibuprofen as
possible new anti-aging medicine
Buck Institute study shows popular
over-the counter drug extends lifespan in yeast, worms and flies
20, 2014 - Ibuprofen, a common over-the-counter drug used to relieve
pain and sold under the brand names of Advil, Motrin and others, could
hold the keys to a longer healthier life, according to a study showing
that regular doses of ibuprofen extended the lifespan of yeast, worms
and fruit flies.
The study was led by researchers at
the Buck Institute for Research on Aging in a collaboration with Texas A
& M's Agrilife program and published in PLoS Genetics on December
"There is a lot to be excited
about," said Brian Kennedy, PhD, CEO of the Buck Institute, who said
treatments, given at doses comparable to those used in humans, extended
lifespan an average of 15 percent in the model organisms. "Not only did
all the species live longer, but the treated flies and worms appeared
more healthy," he said.
"The research shows that ibuprofen
impacts a process not yet implicated in aging, giving us a new way to
study and understand the aging process."
But most importantly, Kennedy said
the study opens the door for a new exploration of so-called "anti-aging
medicines." "Ibuprofen is a relatively safe drug, found in most people's
medicine cabinets," he said. "There is every reason to believe there are
other existing treatments that can impact healthspan and we need to be
Michael Polymenis, PhD, an AgriLife
Research biochemist in Texas A & M's Agrilife program started the work
in baker's yeast and then moved it into worms and flies.
Polymenis, who also is a professor
in the biochemistry and biophysics department at Texas A&M University,
said the three-year project showed that ibuprofen interferes with the
ability of yeast cells to pick up tryptophan, an amino acid found in
every cell of every organism. Tryptophan is essential for humans, who
get it from protein sources in the diet.
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"We are not sure why this works,
but it's worth exploring further. This study was a proof of principle,
to show that common, relatively safe drugs in humans can extend the
lifespan of very diverse organisms," he said. "Therefore, it should be
possible to find others like ibuprofen with even better ability to
extend lifespan, with the aim of adding healthy years of life in
"Dr. Polymenis approached me with
this idea of seeing how his cell cycle analysis corresponded with our
aging studies," said Kennedy. "He had identified some drugs that had
some really unique properties, and we wanted to know if they might
affect aging, so we did those studies in our lab," he said.
"The Buck Institute is interested
in finding out why people get sick when they get old. We think that by
understanding those processes, we can intervene and find ways to extend
human healthspan to keep people healthier longer to slow down aging.
That's our ultimate goal."
Ibuprofen is in the class of
compounds known as NSAID's - nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs used
for relieving pain, helping with fever and reducing inflammation. It was
created in the early 1960's in England and was first made available by
prescription and then, after widespread use, became available
over-the-counter throughout the world in the 1980s. The World Health
Organization includes ibuprofen on their "List of Essential Medications"
needed in a basic health system.
Although deemed relatively safe and
commonly used, ibuprofen can have adverse side effects, particularly in
the gastrointestinal tract and the liver at high doses.
Chong He, PhD, a postdoctoral
fellow at the Buck Institute and lead author on the paper, said the
extended lifespan in the model organisms would be the equivalent to
another dozen or so years of healthy living in humans.
"Our preliminary data in the worms
showed that ibuprofen also extended their healthspan," she said.
"Healthy worms tend to thrash a lot and the treated worms thrashed much
longer than would be normally expected. As they aged, they also
swallowed food much faster than expected."
Other contributors to the study
include: Scott K. Tsuchiyama, Bhumil Patel, Alena R. Faulkner, Ruilin
Tian, and Mitsuhiro Tsuchiya from the Buck Institute; Quynh T. Nguyen,
Samuel R. Terrill, and Sarah Sahibzada, the Department of Biochemistry
and Biophysics, Texas A & M University; Ekaterina N. Plyusnina, Mikhail
V. Shaposhnikov, Alexey A. Moskalev, Institute of Biology of Komi
Science Center of Ural Branch of RAS, Syktyvkar, Russia; Matt Kaeberlein,
Department of Pathology, University of Washington.
The research was funded by the
National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, Glenn
Foundation for Medical Research, Presidium of RAS, and the President of
>> More about ibuprofen at
About the Buck Institute for
Research on Aging
The Buck Institute is the U.S.'s
first independent research organization devoted to Geroscience - focused
on the connection between normal aging and chronic disease. Based in
Novato, CA, The Buck is dedicated to extending "Healthspan", the healthy
years of human life and does so utilizing a unique interdisciplinary
approach involving laboratories studying the mechanisms of aging and
those focused on specific diseases. Buck scientists strive to discover
new ways of detecting, preventing and treating age-related diseases such
as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, cancer, cardiovascular disease, macular
degeneration, osteoporosis, diabetes and stroke. In their collaborative
research, they are supported by the most recent developments in
genomics, proteomics, bioinformatics and stem cell technologies. For