5 years ago

Uric acid, an important antioxidant contributing to survival in termites

Masaru Nitao, Eisuke Tasaki, Yoshihito Iuchi, Hiroki Sakurai, Kenji Matsuura

by Eisuke Tasaki, Hiroki Sakurai, Masaru Nitao, Kenji Matsuura, Yoshihito Iuchi

Reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated spontaneously in all organisms and cause oxidative damage to biomolecules when present in excess. Accumulated oxidative damage accelerates aging; enhanced antioxidant capacity may be a positive factor for longevity. Recently, numerous studies of aging and longevity have been performed using short-lived animals, however, longevity mechanisms remain unknown. Here we show that a termite Reticulitermes speratus that is thought to be long-lived eusocial insect than other solitary insects uses large quantities of uric acid as an antioxidant against ROS. We demonstrated that the accumulation of uric acid considerably increases the free radical-scavenging activity and resistance against ultraviolet-induced oxidative stress in laboratory-maintained termites. In addition, we found that externally administered uric acid aided termite survival under highly oxidative conditions. The present data demonstrates that in addition to nutritional and metabolic roles, uric acid is an essential antioxidant for survival and contributes significantly to longevity. Uric acid also plays important roles in primates but causes gout when present in excess in humans. Further longevity studies of long-lived organisms may provide important breakthroughs with human health applications.

Publisher URL: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179426

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