Research Highlight

Ayurveda gets animal model

doi:10.1038/nindia.2012.73 Published online 15 May 2012

Despite Ayurveda's globally growing popularity, the claims of various formulations of this ancient system of medicine have not been verified through rigorous methods of modern science for want of an animal model. That obstacle appears to have been overcome. Researchers report that the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster, a favourite in genetics research, can also be used as a model system for Ayurvedic formulations.

They reached this conclusion after testing the effects of two formulations on the fruit fly — Amalaki Rasayana or AR, derived from Amla (Indian gooseberry) and Rasa-Sindoor or RS, an organo-metallic derivative of mercury.

They studied their effects on longevity, development, fecundity, stress-tolerance and heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) levels of Drosophila melanogaster using at least 200 larvae or flies for each assay.

While the life span and starvation resistance improved with AR, the size of salivary glands, hnRNP levels in larval tissues and thermotolerance of larvae/adult flies improved significantly with both formulations.

The study reveals formulation-specific effects on several parameters of the fly's life generally in agreement with their recommended human usages in Ayurvedic practices.

"Thus, Drosophila, with its very rich genetic tools and well worked out developmental pathways promises to be a very good model for examining the cellular and molecular bases of the effects of different Ayurvedic formulations," they conclude.

The authors of this work are from: Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi; Arya Vaidya Sala, Kottakkal and Manipal University, Manipal, India.


  1. Dwivedi, V. et al. In vivo effects of traditional Ayurvedic formulations in Drosophila melanogaster model relate with therapeutic applications. PLOS ONE doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0037113 (2012)