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Extending lifespans through cocoa: A finding in common fruit flies


A research group led by Professor Shinjiro Imai of the School of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Tokyo University of Technology, Professor Yasunari Kayashima of the Department of Food and Nutrition, Yamanashi Gakuin Junior College, Meiji Co., Ltd., and others, have discovered that fatty acid tryptamide, a substance in cacao seeds, specifically activates sirtuin, an enzyme essential for the maintenance of life.

Lifespan extension in the common fruit fly. 100 individuals in each group. Res=resveratrol, Fa-Trp21=fatty acid tryptamide (alkyl chain 21), Fa-Trp23=fatty acid tryptamide (alkyl chain 23), significance: *>0.05
Provided by Tokyo University of Technology

While Japan's average life expectancy is increasing year by year, it is also progressing towards a super-aged society, and healthy life expectancy has not necessarily improved, as evidenced by the increase in numbers of bedridden individuals and those with dementia. Extending healthy life expectancy is an urgent issue, and technologies to maintain health and prevent diseases amongst the elderly are needed. In particular, sirtuins, a family of deacetylates, are involved in cell maintenance and multiplication and activation of this enzyme is believed to prolong lifespans and inhibit obesity.

The group has focused on cacao, traditionally considered a longevity food because previous studies have shown that components in its hull activate this enzyme.

The study results confirmed that the fatty acid tryptamide, which is abundant in cacao seeds, contributes to longevity by activating sirtuin. Researchers fed this substance to common fruit flies and found it extended their average lifespan by about four days (14%) compared to a regular diet. Applying this to humans corresponds to extending a lifespan from 81.6 years to 93.0 years.

The effect of the fatty acid tryptamide was more substantial than that of resveratrol, an ingredient found in grape seeds, which was also found to prolong the lifespan of fruit flies.

Professor Imai said, "To put this substance to practical use, we need to confirm its effectiveness in mammals and humans. Recently, the use of animal models for functional food development has been avoided due to ethical concerns. Human clinical trials are also needed, but safety evaluations are required to reach this stage. These are issues of future focus."

Journal Information
Publication: Scientific Reports
Title: Fatty acid tryptamide from cacao elongates Drosophila melanogaster lifespan with sirtuin-dependent heat shock protein expression
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-16471-1

This article has been translated by JST with permission from The Science News Ltd.( Unauthorized reproduction of the article and photographs is prohibited.

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