Nuts and Bolts of Naked Mole-Rat Longevity

While we're on the subject of oxidative stress, here's a paper looking at just how resistant naked mole-rats are to oxidative damage. This seems to be the root of their eight-fold longevity over similarly sized rodent species. "The naked mole-rat (NMR; Heterocephalus glaber) is the longest-living rodent known (maximum lifespan potential [MLSP]: >28 years) and a unique model of successful aging showing attenuated declines in most physiological function. This study addresses age-related changes in endothelial function and production of reactive oxygen species in NMR arteries and vessels of shorter-living [rats]. ... long-living NMRs can maintain a youthful vascular function and cellular oxidant/antioxidant phenotype relatively longer and are better protected against aging-induced oxidative stress than shorter-living rats." The short version of the story is that - by a whole range of biochemical measures - naked mole-rats just don't show much evidence of this aspect of degenerative aging, an aspect that causes great suffering for we humans. As for several other species of mammal, the mole-rats indicate there is great room for improvement in the human model. Which is interesting, but certainly not the fast path to greatly extended lives, for all that we live in the midst of a revolution in biotechnology - it's much easier to learn to fix damage in the present model than to rework our biochemistry to resist that damage.

Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1152/ajpheart.01287.2006

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