Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Long-lived rodents have high levels of brain-protecting factor

Date:
May 10, 2012
Source:
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio
Summary:
The naked mole rat, which lives 25 to 30 years, maintains large amounts of a neuroprotective protein called NRG-1 throughout life.

Naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber).
Credit: © belizar / Fotolia

The typical naked mole rat lives 25 to 30 years, during which it shows little decline in activity, bone health, reproductive capacity and cognitive ability. What is the secret to this East African rodent's long, healthy life?

Scientists from the United States and Israel found a clue. From infancy to old age, naked mole rats are blessed with large amounts of a protein essential for normal brain function.

"Naked mole rats have the highest level of a growth factor called NRG-1 in the cerebellum. Its levels are sustained throughout their life, from development through adulthood," said Yael Edrey, doctoral student at The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio's Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies.

Comparison across 7 species

The Barshop Institute has the largest colony of naked mole rats in the U.S. -- 2,000 rodents scampering around a network of tubes and cages in humid conditions that mimic their natural underground habitat. Edrey is the lead author of research that compared lifelong NRG-1 levels across seven species of rodents, from mice and guinea pigs to blind mole rats and Damaraland mole rats.

NRG-1 levels were monitored in naked mole rats at different ages ranging from 1 day to 26 years. The other six rodent species have maximum life spans of three to 19 years.

The cerebellum coordinates movements and maintains bodily equilibrium. The research team hypothesized that long-lived species would maintain higher levels of NRG-1 in this region of the brain, with simultaneous healthy activity levels.

Among each of the species, the longest-lived members exhibited the highest lifelong levels of NRG-1. The naked mole rat had the most robust and enduring supply. "In both mice and in humans, NRG-1 levels go down with age," Edrey said.

Protection of the brain

Researchers have documented various characteristics of naked mole rat physiology, revealing the integrity of proteins in the liver, kidney and muscle. This is the first set of data evaluating species' differences in a key factor involved in maintaining the integrity of the rodent's brain.

"The strong correlation between this protective brain factor and maximum life span highlights a new focus for aging research, further supporting earlier findings that it is not the amount of oxidative damage an organism encounters that determines species life span but rather that the protective mechanisms may be more important," said senior author Rochelle Buffenstein, Ph.D., professor of physiology and cellular and structural biology at the Barshop Institute. She is Edrey's research mentor.

The finding, while not directly applicable to humans, has many implications for NRG-1's role in maintaining neuron integrity.

Co-author Dorothιe Huchon, Ph.D., a senior lecturer at Tel Aviv University in Israel, was a sabbatical scholar at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent) in Durham, N.C., during the project. Dr. Huchon conducted analyses revealing, she said, that the correlation between maximum life span and NRG-1 levels was independent of evolutionary lineage of the seven species.

Naked mole rats are burrowing rodents with a distinctive appearance -- hairless with wrinkled pinkish skin, tiny eyes and protruding front teeth. Their native habitat is the Horn of Africa. The rodent's capacity to resist cancer and maintain protein integrity in the face of oxidative damage makes it an ideal animal model for aging and biomedical research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Yael H. Edrey, Diana Casper, Dorothee Huchon, James Mele, Jonathan A. Gelfond, Deborah M. Kristan, Eviatar Nevo, Rochelle Buffenstein. Sustained high levels of neuregulin-1 in the longest-lived rodents; a key determinant of rodent longevity. Aging Cell, 2012; 11 (2): 213 DOI: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2011.00772.x

Cite This Page:

University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. "Long-lived rodents have high levels of brain-protecting factor." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 May 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120510132711.htm>.
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. (2012, May 10). Long-lived rodents have high levels of brain-protecting factor. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120510132711.htm
University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. "Long-lived rodents have high levels of brain-protecting factor." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/05/120510132711.htm (accessed September 1, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) — A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Washington Wildlife Center Goes Nuts Over Baby Squirrels

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 30, 2014) — An animal rescue in Washington state receives an influx of orphaned squirrels, keeping workers busy as they nurse them back to health. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Experimental Ebola Drug ZMapp Cures Lab Monkeys Of Disease

Newsy (Aug. 29, 2014) — In a new study, a promising experimental treatment for Ebola managed to cure a group of infected macaque monkeys. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins