Tardigrade proteins and their potential to enhance human longevity

Jul 5, 2024

Introducing tardigrade CAHS proteins into human cells induces reversible biostasis by forming gels that slow metabolism and protect cells during stress. This mechanism could enhance cell survival and longevity, potentially offering insights for advancing healthspan and ageing interventions.

April 2024 – Protein Science


Key takeaways


  • Tardigrade CAHS proteins can slow metabolism and protect cells during stress by forming gels:  The CAHS proteins from tardigrades are unique in their ability to form protective gels within cells. These gels create a stable environment that mitigates the damageing effects of stress, such as dehydration or osmotic shock. By immobilising cellular components and slowing down metabolic processes, these proteins help maintain cellular integrity under adverse conditions
  • The gel formation by CAHS proteins induces reversible biostasis, enhancing cell survival: CAHS proteins induce a state of reversible biostasis, where cellular activities are temporarily halted. This state allows cells to survive extreme stress and resume normal functions once favourable conditions return. The ability to enter and exit biostasis without permanent damage is crucial for enhancing cell survival, especially in harsh environments
  • Reduced metabolism and increased cell survival are strongly correlated, potentially aiding longevity: The reduction in metabolic activity orchestrated by CAHS proteins is significantly correlated with higher cell survival rates. By slowing down the metabolism, cells consume fewer resources and produce fewer harmful by-products, leading to a more stable internal environment. This correlation suggests that mechanisms reducing metabolic rates can contribute to longer cell life and, by extension, overall longevity


Understanding how CAHS proteins work opens new avenues for developing therapeutic interventions aimed at extending healthspan and combating ageing. By mimicking or enhancing these protective mechanisms, it might be possible to create treatments that help human cells better withstand stress, reduce metabolic damage, and maintain function over a longer period, thus promoting healthier ageing.


Read the article at: Sanchez-Martinez, S., et al. “Labile Assembly of a Tardigrade Protein Induces Biostasis.Protein Science, vol. 33, 2024, e4941.