The prolongation of the lifespan of rats by repeated oral administration of fullerene
Countless studies showed that fullerene (C(60)) and derivatives could have many potential biomedical applications. However, while several independent research groups showed that C(60) has no acute or sub-acute toxicity in various experimental models, more than 25 years after its discovery the in vivo fate and the chronic effects of this fullerene remain unknown. If the potential of C(60) and derivatives in the biomedical field have to be fulfilled these issues must be addressed. Here we show that oral administration of C(60) dissolved in olive oil (0.8 mg/ml) at reiterated doses (1.7 mg/kg of body weight) to rats not only does not entail chronic toxicity but it almost doubles their lifespan. The effects of C(60)-olive oil solutions in an experimental model of CCl(4) intoxication in rat strongly suggest that the effect on lifespan is mainly due to the attenuation of age-associated increases in oxidative stress. Pharmacokinetic studies show that dissolved C(60) is absorbed by the gastro-intestinal tract and eliminated in a few tens of hours. These results of importance in the fields of medicine and toxicology should open the way for the many possible -and waited for- biomedical applications of C(60) including cancer therapy, neurodegenerative disorders, and ageing.