Negligible senescence in the longest living rodent, the naked mole-rat: Insights from a successfully aging species

Rochelle Buffenstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

215 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Aging refers to a gradual deterioration in function that, over time, leads to increased mortality risk, and declining fertility. This pervasive process occurs in almost all organisms, although some long-lived trees and cold water inhabitants reportedly show insignificant aging. Negligible senescence is characterized by attenuated age-related change in reproductive and physiological functions, as well as no observable age-related gradual increase in mortality rate. It was questioned whether the longest living rodent, the naked mole-rat, met these three strict criteria. Naked mole-rats live in captivity for more than 28.3 years, ∼9 times longer than similar-sized mice. They maintain body composition from 2 to 24 years, and show only slight age-related changes in all physiological and morphological characteristics studied to date. Surprisingly breeding females show no decline in fertility even when well into their third decade of life. Moreover, these animals have never been observed to develop any spontaneous neoplasm. As such they do not show the typical age-associated acceleration in mortality risk that characterizes every other known mammalian species and may therefore be the first reported mammal showing negligible senescence over the majority of their long lifespan. Clearly physiological and biochemical processes in this species have evolved to dramatically extend healthy lifespan. The challenge that lies ahead is to understand what these mechanisms are.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)439-445
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology B: Biochemical, Systemic, and Environmental Physiology
Volume178
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2008

Fingerprint

Mole Rats
Heterocephalus glaber
senescence
rodent
Rats
Rodentia
rodents
Aging of materials
mortality risk
Mammals
Fertility
Mortality
Biochemical Phenomena
Physiological Phenomena
Deterioration
fertility
Animals
Body Composition
Breeding
Water

Keywords

  • Heterocephalus glaber
  • Maximum lifespan
  • Oxidative stress
  • Reproduction
  • Slow aging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)

Cite this

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abstract = "Aging refers to a gradual deterioration in function that, over time, leads to increased mortality risk, and declining fertility. This pervasive process occurs in almost all organisms, although some long-lived trees and cold water inhabitants reportedly show insignificant aging. Negligible senescence is characterized by attenuated age-related change in reproductive and physiological functions, as well as no observable age-related gradual increase in mortality rate. It was questioned whether the longest living rodent, the naked mole-rat, met these three strict criteria. Naked mole-rats live in captivity for more than 28.3 years, ∼9 times longer than similar-sized mice. They maintain body composition from 2 to 24 years, and show only slight age-related changes in all physiological and morphological characteristics studied to date. Surprisingly breeding females show no decline in fertility even when well into their third decade of life. Moreover, these animals have never been observed to develop any spontaneous neoplasm. As such they do not show the typical age-associated acceleration in mortality risk that characterizes every other known mammalian species and may therefore be the first reported mammal showing negligible senescence over the majority of their long lifespan. Clearly physiological and biochemical processes in this species have evolved to dramatically extend healthy lifespan. The challenge that lies ahead is to understand what these mechanisms are.",
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