Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Naked mole rat may hold the secret to long life

Date:
July 2, 2012
Source:
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Summary:
The naked mole rat's brain contains unusually high levels of NRG-1, a neuroprotecting protein, which preserves high activity, bone health, and cognitive ability throughout its lifespan, new research shows. And because the rodent has an 85 percent genetic similarity to humans, continuing investigation could lead to a longer and healthier life for us.

Naked mole rat (Heterocephalus glaber). Compared to the average three year life span of a common rat, the 10 to 30 year life of the naked mole rat, a subterranean rodent native to East Africa, is impressive.
Credit: belizar / Fotolia

Compared to the average three year life span of a common rat, the 10 to 30 year life of the naked mole rat, a subterranean rodent native to East Africa, is impressive. And compared to the human body, the body of this rodent shows little decline due to aging, maintaining high activity, bone health, reproductive capacity, and cognitive ability throughout its lifetime. Now a collaborative of researchers in Israel and the United States is working to uncover the secret to the small mammal's long -- and active -- lifespan.

Dr. Dorothee Huchon of Tel Aviv University's Department of Zoology, Prof. Rochelle Buffenstein of the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, and Dr. Yael Edrey of the City College of New York are working together to determine whether the naked mole rat's unusually high levels of NRG-1, a neuroprotecting protein, is behind the naked mole rat's three-decade life span. Because rodents have an 85 percent genetic similarity to humans, it may hold the key to a longer and healthier life for us as well.

This research has been published in the journal Aging Cell.

A family trait?

Genetic analysis comparing the mole rat with several other rodent species revealed that high levels NRG-1 in adults correlated with a longer life span. Of all the species the researchers studied, the naked mole rat had the most plentiful and long-lasting supply of the protein, maintaining a consistent level throughout its lifetime. It is concentrated in the cerebellum, the part of the brain important to motor control.

Dr. Huchon, an evolutionary biologist, joined the project to lend her expertise on rodent genetics. She studied seven species of rodents, including guinea pigs, mice, and mole rats, to determine the genetic relationships between them. Her analysis revealed that the correlation between life span and NRG-1 levels was independent of evolutionary lineage -- meaning that it was unique to the naked mole rat, not a common trait of these rodent species.

Prof. Buffenstein and Edrey monitored NRG-1 levels in a population of naked mole rats ranging in age from one day to 26 years. They found that throughout their lives, levels of NRG-1, essential for normal brain functioning, were sustained. The protein is a neuroprotector, safeguarding the integrity of neurons, which may explain why naked mole rats are able to live so healthfully for such a long period of time.

Shaping future aging research

This discovery is an important first step towards understanding how aging -- and the NRG-1 protein in particular -- functions in these interesting animals, says Dr. Huchon. Future research could reveal how NRG-1 helps to maintain neuron integrity and lead to discoveries about human aging as well.

The naked mole rat, a burrowing rodent that lives in colonies much like those of ants, has already proven to be an excellent tool for aging and biomedical research because it is resistant to cancer and maintains protein integrity in the brain despite being exposed to oxidative damage, Dr. Huchon says.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Friends of Tel Aviv University. 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:

American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Naked mole rat may hold the secret to long life." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 July 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120702162327.htm>.
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. (2012, July 2). Naked mole rat may hold the secret to long life. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120702162327.htm
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Naked mole rat may hold the secret to long life." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/07/120702162327.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Microneedle Patch Promises Painless Pricks

Microneedle Patch Promises Painless Pricks

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 18, 2014) Researchers at The National University of Singapore have invented a new microneedle patch that could offer a faster and less painful delivery of drugs such as insulin and painkillers. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Nurse Nina Pham Arrives in Maryland

Raw: Nurse Nina Pham Arrives in Maryland

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) The first nurse to be diagnosed with Ebola at a Dallas hospital walked down the stairs of an executive jet into an ambulance at an airport in Frederick, Maryland, on Thursday. Pham will be treated at the National Institutes of Health. (Oct. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Cruise Ship Returns to US Over Ebola Fears

Raw: Cruise Ship Returns to US Over Ebola Fears

AP (Oct. 17, 2014) A Caribbean cruise ship carrying a Dallas health care worker who is being monitored for signs of the Ebola virus is heading back to Texas, US, after being refused permission to dock in Cozumel, Mexico. (Oct. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spanish Govt: Four Suspected Ebola Cases in Spain Test Negative

Spanish Govt: Four Suspected Ebola Cases in Spain Test Negative

AFP (Oct. 17, 2014) All four suspected Ebola cases admitted to hospitals in Spain on Thursday have tested negative for the deadly virus in a first round of tests, the government said Friday. Duration: 00:55 Video provided by AFP
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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