Date of Award

May 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



Committee Member

Min Cao

Committee Member

Yanzhang Wei

Committee Member

Thomas Hughes


Alcohol abuse has been extensively studied and is well known to cause multiple health problems, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and some forms of cancer. Conversely, there has also been an ongoing debate about whether ethanol in moderation has beneficial effects. For example, some studies have found that light to moderate alcohol consumption can have cardiovascular benefits and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Additionally, there have been studies showing that low concentrations of ethanol can increase the lifespan of Caenorhabditis elegans. However, the pathways and mechanisms involved in ethanol-mediated longevity are still unknown.

In this study, we have found that 0.5% and 1% ethanol can increase the lifespan of C. elegans when administered starting at the young adult stage and egg stage. Using the knockout mutant, sodh-1, we determined that ethanol, not its metabolites, is causing the increase in lifespan. Then using RNAi knockdown and knockout mutants, we found the longevity transcription factor, HSF-1, was required for ethanol-mediated longevity. In contrast, we did not find the longevity transcription factors SKN-1 and DAF-16 to be significantly involved in ethanol's longevity effect. We also found the insulin/IGF-1 receptor, DAF-2, to be involved indicating the possible involvement of a novel longevity pathway, operating in parallel to the canonical insulin/IGF-1 signaling pathway.



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