Podospora anserina, lifespan, curcumin, mitochondrial respiration, autophagy
The filamentous ascomycete Podospora anserina is a well established aging model in which a central role of mitochondria in the control of organismal aging has been demonstrated. A number of different mitochondrial quality control pathways, including those involved in the control of respiration, DNA maintenance, proteolysis and dynamics affect aging and lifespan. Here, we describe an attempt to use P. anserina as an in vivo model to study the effect of natural compounds on mitochondrial function and organismal aging. As an example, we chose curcumin, a polyphenol from the rhizome of the plant Curcuma longa. This compound is known to have pleiotropic activities in biological systems. The detailed mechanisms of action are not fully understood. We show that curcumin increases lifespan of P. anserina and demonstrate that this effect depends on a functional autophagy machinery and on superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity. Moreover, we found that curcumin treatment increases mitochondrial respiration, SOD1 activity as well as hydrogen peroxide release and induces autophagy.