Withania somnifera Extracts Promote Resilience against Age-Related and Stress-Induced Behavioral Phenotypes in Drosophila melanogaster; a Possible Role of Other Compounds besides Withanolides

Helen Holvoet, Dani M. Long, Alexander Law, Christine McClure, Jaewoo Choi, Liping Yang, Luke Marney, Burkhard Poeck, Roland Strauss, Jan F. Stevens, Claudia S. Maier, Amala Soumyanath, Doris Kretzschmar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Withania somnifera (WS) extracts have been used in traditional medicine for millennia to promote healthy aging and wellbeing. WS is now also widely used in Western countries as a nutritional supplement to extend healthspan and increase resilience against age-related changes, including sleep deficits and depression. Although human trials have supported beneficial effects of WS, the study designs have varied widely. Plant material is intrinsically complex, and extracts vary widely with the origin of the plant material and the extraction method. Commercial supplements can contain various other ingredients, and the characteristics of the study population can also be varied. To perform maximally controlled experiments, we used plant extracts analyzed for their composition and stability. We then tested these extracts in an inbred Drosophila line to minimize effects of the genetic background in a controlled environment. We found that a water extract of WS (WSAq) was most potent in improving physical fitness, while an ethanol extract (WSE) improved sleep in aged flies. Both extracts provided resilience against stress-induced behavioral changes. WSE contained higher levels of withanolides, which have been proposed to be active ingredients, than WSAq. Therefore, withanolides may mediate the sleep improvement, whereas so-far-unknown ingredients enriched in WSAq likely mediate the effects on fitness and stress-related behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3923
JournalNutrients
Volume14
Issue number19
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Keywords

  • ashwagandha
  • cognition
  • depression-like state
  • locomotion
  • sleep
  • withanolides

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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