UMMS Affiliation

Department of Molecular, Cell and Cancer Biology; RNA Therapeutics Institute; Program in Molecular Medicine; Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

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Amino Acids, Peptides, and Proteins | Bacteria | Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Genetics | Molecular Biology | Molecular Genetics


Intestinal microbiota play an essential role in the health of a host organism. Here, we define how commensal Escherichia coli (E. coli) alters its host after long term exposure to glucose using a Caenorhabditis elegans-E. coli system where only the bacteria have direct contact with glucose. Our data reveal that bacterial processing of glucose results in reduced lifespan and healthspan including reduced locomotion, oxidative stress resistance, and heat stress resistance in C. elegans. With chronic exposure to glucose, E. coli exhibits growth defects and increased advanced glycation end products. These negative effects are abrogated when the E. coli is not able to process the additional glucose and by the addition of the anti-glycation compound carnosine. Physiological changes of the host C. elegans are accompanied by dysregulation of detoxifying genes including glyoxalase, glutathione-S-transferase, and superoxide dismutase. Loss of the glutathione-S-transferase, gst-4 shortens C. elegans lifespan and blunts the animal's response to a glucose fed bacterial diet. Taken together, we reveal that added dietary sugar may alter intestinal microbial E. coli to decrease lifespan and healthspan of the host and define a critical role of detoxification genes in maintaining health during a chronic high-sugar diet.


Genetics, Molecular biology

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Copyright © The Author(s) 2021. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit

DOI of Published Version



Kingsley SF, Seo Y, Allen C, Ghanta KS, Finkel S, Tissenbaum HA. Bacterial processing of glucose modulates C. elegans lifespan and healthspan. Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 15;11(1):5931. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-85046-3. PMID: 33723307; PMCID: PMC7971010. Link to article on publisher's site

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Scientific reports

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.