Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 178, Issue 4, pp 439–445 | Cite as

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

Review

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.

Keywords

Slow aging Maximum lifespan Oxidative stress Reproduction Heterocephalus glaber 

Abbreviations

MLSP

Maximum lifespan

LQ

Longevity quotient

BMR

Basal metabolic rate

ROS

Reactive oxygen species

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physiology and The Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging StudiesUniversity of Texas Health Science Center at San AntonioSan AntonioUSA

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