N-Acetylserotonin Study: Now Fundraising

By Sarah Constantin

We are currently raising additional donations to contribute to a mouse lifespan study of the neurotransmitter n-acetylserotonin, in collaboration with Professor Gregory Oxenkrug of Tufts University.

Dr. Oxenkrug has a scientific career spanning more than 50 years; he originated the serotonin hypothesis of depression, and has been a major proponent of the hypothesis that tryptophan-kynurenine metabolism drives the diseases of aging.

Oxenkrug's past research has demonstrated that indole molecules like melatonin and its precursor n-acetylserotonin extend lifespan in mice (up to 20%) and prevent hair loss.  (These neurotransmitters have neuroprotective and antioxidant effects, and they downregulate the metabolism of tryptophan into kynurenine derivatives.)  He has also observed that inhibiting kynurenine metabolism extends life in fruit flies and that the kynurenine-impaired fruit fly mutants white and vermilion live longer than wild type.

Now, we'd like to fund a larger study on the effects of n-acetylserotonin on mouse lifespan, under thermoneutral conditions and with genetically diverse mice. This is important because standard laboratory conditions (with cold temperatures and inbred strains of mice) have been known to overstate the apparent efficacy of interventions. Even the best-replicated lifespan-extending intervention, caloric restriction, no longer works on mice in thermoneutral housing. So testing whether n-acetylserotonin (which is not purely a CR mimetic) still extends life in a thermoneutral context, is an important test that may be more predictive of whether it is a genuine geroprotector than any study yet conducted on interventions to extend healthy lifespan.

The estimates from Tufts for the costs of this study come to $500,000. Much of this goes to the special temperature-controlled thermoneutral vivarium, for the animal husbandry and veterinary staff to care for the animals, scientific personnel to measure the animals' locomotor activity, and autopsy and sample analysis to measure oxidation levels and tryptophan metabolites in brain tissue.

LRI's grants and experiments are made possible by our donors' generosity.  Funding scientific research is the fastest way to contribute to a future where we can prevent or reverse the diseases of aging.  If you're able to contribute to this experiment, please donate; your help is much appreciated.