Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2017 August; 72(8): 491-498.

Copyright © 2017 CLINICS

Selenocysteine modulates resistance to environmental stress and confers anti-aging effects in C. elegans

Jun-Sung Kim , So-Hyeon Kim , Sang-Kyu Park *

Soonchunhyang University, College of Medical Sciences, Department of Medical Biotechnology, Asan, Chungnam, Republic of Korea

*Corresponding author: E-mail:

received January 27, 2017; revised April 21, 2017; accepted May 30, 2017.



The free radical theory of aging suggests that cellular oxidative damage caused by free radicals is a leading cause of aging. In the present study, we examined the effects of a well-known anti-oxidant amino acid derivative, selenocysteine, in response to environmental stress and aging using Caenorhabditis elegans as a model system.


The response to oxidative stress induced by H2O2 or ultraviolet irradiation was compared between the untreated control and selenocysteine-treated groups. The effect of selenocysteine on lifespan and fertility was then determined. To examine the effect of selenocysteine on muscle aging, we monitored the change in motility with aging in both the untreated control and selenocysteine-treated groups.


Dietary supplementation with selenocysteine significantly increased resistance to oxidative stress. Survival after ultraviolet irradiation was also increased by supplementation with selenocysteine. Treatment with selenocysteine confers a longevity phenotype without an accompanying reduction in fertility, which is frequently observed in lifespan-extending interventions as a trade-off in C. elegans. In addition, the age-related decline in motility was significantly delayed by supplementation of selenocysteine.


These findings suggest that dietary supplementation of selenocysteine can modulate response to stressors and lead to lifespan extension, thus supporting the free radical theory of aging.

Keywords: Selenocysteine, Stress Response, Lifespan, Aging, C. elegans

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