Abstract In this work we report that carnitines, in particular acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC), are able to prolong the chronological aging of yeast cells during the stationary phase. Life-span extension is significantly reduced in yca1 mutants as well in rho(0) strains, suggesting that the protective effects pass through the Yca1 caspase and mitochondrial functions. ALC can also prevent apoptosis in pro-apoptotic mutants, pointing to the importance of mitochondrial functions in regulating yeast apoptosis and aging. We also demonstrate that ALC attenuates mitochondrial fission in aged yeast cells, indicating a correlation between its protective effect and this process. Our findings suggest that ALC, used as therapeutic for stroke, myocardial infarction and neurodegenerative diseases, beside the well-known anti-oxidant effects, might exert protective effects also acting on mitochondrial morphology.
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