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Acai counteracts oxidative stress, lengthens lifespan in fruit flies
Date:8/21/2012

Bewildered by the array of antioxidant fruit juices on display in the supermarket and the promises they make? To sort out the antioxidant properties of fruits and berries, scientists at Emory University School of Medicine turned to fruit flies for help.

They found that a commercially available acai berry product can lengthen the lives of fruit flies, when the flies' lives are made short through additional oxidative stress. Under certain conditions (a simple sugar diet) acai supplementation could triple flies' lifespans, from eight to 24 days. Acai could also counteract the neurotoxic effects of the herbicide paraquat on the flies.

The results were recently published by the journal Experimental Gerontology, which awarded the paper its inaugural "Outstanding paper" prize. The lead author is Alysia Vrailas-Mortimer, a postdoctoral fellow in Emory University School of Medicine's Department of Cell Biology.

Vrailas-Mortimer says she didn't start out focusing on acai. But acai worked better than several other antioxidant products such as vitamins, coenzyme Q10 and lutein.

"One thing that makes our work distinctive is that we tried commercially available supplements," she says. "We went to a health food store and filled up a basket."

She says she began the project with the help of undergraduate student Rosy Gomez, and narrowed her focus after initial success with acai. Vrailas-Mortimer took advantage of a discovery she had made working with Subhabrata Sanyal, assistant professor of cell biology, PhD. They had previously found that flies with mutations in the "p38 MAP kinase" gene have shorter lives and are more sensitive to heat, food deprivation and oxidative stress.

P38 mutant flies lived an average of only eight days when they were given a simple sugar water diet. However, their lifespans tripled when their diet was supplemented with acai. Ginger was used as a control for the diet supplements.

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Contact: Quinn Eastman
qeastma@emory.edu
404-727-7829
Emory University
Source:Eurekalert

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