Research Article: The lifespan extension effects of resveratrol are conserved in the honey bee and may be driven by a mechanism related to caloric restriction

Date Published: July 31, 2012

Publisher: Impact Journals LLC

Author(s): Brenda Rascón, Basil P. Hubbard, David A. Sinclair, Gro V. Amdam.



Our interest in healthy aging and in evolutionarily conserved mechanisms of lifespan extension prompted us to investigate whether features of age-related decline in the honey bee could be attenuated with resveratrol. Resveratrol is regarded as a caloric restriction mimetic known to extend lifespan in some but not all model species. The current, prevailing view is that resveratrol works largely by activating signaling pathways. It has also been suggested that resveratrol may act as an antioxidant and confer protection against nervous system impairment and oxidative stress. To test whether honey bee lifespan, learning performance, and food perception could be altered by resveratrol, we supplemented the diets of honey bees and measured lifespan, olfactory learning, and gustatory responsiveness to sucrose. Furthermore, to test the effects of resveratrol under metabolic challenge, we used hyperoxic environments to generate oxidative stress. Under normal oxygen conditions, two resveratrol treatments—30 and 130 μM—lengthened average lifespan in wild-type honey bees by 38% and 33%, respectively. Both resveratrol treatments also lengthened maximum and median lifespan. In contrast, hyperoxic stress abolished the resveratrol life-extension response. Furthermore, resveratrol did not affect learning performance, but did alter gustation. Honey bees that were not fed resveratrol exhibited greater responsiveness to sugar, while those supplemented with resveratrol were less responsive to sugar. We also discovered that individuals fed a high dose of resveratrol—compared to controls—ingested fewer quantities of food under ad libitum feeding conditions.

Partial Text

The decline in brain function that accompanies senescence in diverse organisms and the mechanisms that underlie this dysfunction are of great interest. Aging intervention strategies, such as genetic manipulation and dietary restriction, have shown that lifespan extension is possible e.g. [1]. However, enhanced longevity coupled to brain deterioration is an undesirable combination that warrants further research into the prolongation of health span. Our previous experiments in the honey bee have revealed that hyperoxic environments can mimic normal patterns of aging dysfunction, which include increased mortality and learning performance decline (Rascon et al., submitted). In the current study, we tested whether we could promote healthy aging in the honey bee via the administration of resveratrol.