The naked mole rat, nature’s poster child for anti-aging. Photo: Roman Klementschitz // Wikimedia Commons.
Scientists from Skoltech, Harvard and Rochester University have shown that the non-aging naked mole rat is still susceptible to aging at the cellular level. The researchers studied the reaction of the rat’s cells to three main types of aging triggers in other rodents and discovered that despite high resistance to these triggers, the rat’s cells are still subject to aging if given a fairly powerful stimulus. This means that the rat is indeed an enigmatic creature whose extraordinary longevity secret remains to be unraveled.
The naked mole rat is the longest-living rodent on Earth. It shows virtually no signs of aging and can live up to 30 years, which is very long for an animal nearly as small as a mouse. Moreover, naked mole rats almost never suffer from cancer and remain fit and active until an advanced age. The rat’s remarkable features have inspired researchers worldwide to search for effective anti-aging solutions.
The authors of the paper published in PNAS studied developmental, oncogene-induced, and DNA damage-induced cellular senescence. In each of the three cases, they discovered a cellular senescence pattern similar to that of mice, which have a rather short life span. However, as opposed to mice, the naked mole rat’s cells are resistant to much higher doses of radiation and are affected less by DNA damage. In other words, the cellular senescence process in naked mole rats is not set off so easily as in other rodents.
“Naked mole rats are susceptible to all the major types of cellular senescence, while displaying much higher resistance to environmental exposure. This is probably the main factor that slows down the aging process and significantly increases the life span of naked mole rats as compared to other rodents,” said one of the authors, Skoltech PhD student Alexander Tyshkovskiy.
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The Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) is a private graduate research university. Established in 2011 in collaboration with MIT, Skoltech educates global leaders in innovation and entrepreneurship, develops advanced scientific knowledge, and fosters new technologies to address critical issues facing Russia. Applying international research and educational models, the university integrates the best Russian scientific traditions with twenty-first century entrepreneurship and innovation. Web: http://www.skoltech.ru/