Early life events can have dramatic consequences on performance later in life. Exposure to stressors at a young age affects development, the rate of aging, risk of disease, and overall lifespan. In spite of this, mild stress exposure early in life can have beneficial effects on performance later in life. These positive effects of mild stress are referred to as physiological conditioning hormesis. In our current study we used anoxia conditioning hormesis as a pretreatment to reduce oxidative stress and improve organismal performance, lifespan, and healthspan of Caribbean fruit flies. We used gamma irradiation to induce mild oxidative damage in a low-dose experiment, and massive oxidative damage in a separate high-dose experiment, in pharate adult fruit flies just prior to adult emergence. Irradiation-induced oxidative stress leads to reduced adult emergence, flight ability, mating performance, and lifespan. We used a hormetic approach, one hour of exposure to anoxia plus irradiation in anoxia, to lower post-irradiation oxidative damage. We have previously shown that this anoxic-conditioning treatment elevates total antioxidant capacity and lowers post-irradiation oxidative damage to lipids and proteins. In this study, conditioned flies had lower mortality rates and longer lifespan compared to those irradiated without hormetic conditioning. As a metric of healthspan, we tracked mating both at a young age (10 d) and old age (30 d). We found that anoxia-conditioned male flies were more competitive at young ages when compared to unconditioned irradiation stressed male flies, and that the positive effects of anoxic conditioning hormesis on mating success were even more pronounced in older males. Our data shows that physiological conditioning hormesis at a young age, not only improves immediate metrics of organismal performance (emergence, flight, mating), but the beneficial effects also carry into old age by reducing late life oxidative damage and improving lifespan and healthspan. © 2014 Ló pez-Martínez, Hahn.
López-Martínez, G., & Hahn, D. A. (2014). Early life hormetic treatments decrease irradiation-induced oxidative damage, increase longevity, and enhance sexual performance during old age in the Caribbean fruit fly. PLoS ONE, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0088128