Studies of nematodes have found that oxidative stress experienced early in life increases resistance later in life. The study was published in the journal Nature. Researchers at the University of Michigan analyzed the beautiful hidden worm and found that during development, the nematode would live longer than the nematodes that produce fewer oxidants.
The results are surprising because environmental stress has an important effect on the rate of aging in animals, and excessive environmental stress often causes damage to cells and the body, shortening life spans. Reactive oxygen (REactive oxygen, ROS) is an oxidant produced by every organism that breathes air. ROS is closely related to aging.
However, the researchers found that the nematodes that produce more ROS during development actually did not live shorter, but lived longer. When researchers exposed nematode populations to external ROS during development, the average life span of the entire population increased.
Although researchers don’t yet know what triggered oxidative stress events during development, they were able to determine that the process could extend the life span of these worms.