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Prolonged longevity in naked mole-rats: age-related changes in metabolism, body composition and gastrointestinal function.

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Department of Biology, City College of City University of New York, 138th Street and Convent Avenue, New York, NY 10031, USA.


Aging is characterized by declines in all physiological processes and concomitant changes in body composition. Age-related changes in metabolism, body composition and gastrointestinal function were investigated in naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber), rodents that exhibit extended longevity. Maximum lifespan of these 40 g rodents (>27 year) is approximately 9 times greater than predicted allometrically. We investigated changes in basal metabolic rate (BMR), body composition and intestinal glucose transport in 1, 5, 10 and 20-year-old male individuals. Body composition was measured using dual X-ray absorptiometry and activity of sodium glucose co-transporters (SGLT1) determined using everted gut sleeves. One-year-olds had lower body mass than other age cohorts, as they had not attained full adult form. Among the 5, 10, and 20-year-olds, no age-related changes in body mass, BMR, percentage body fat, fat-free mass or bone mineral density were found. SGLT1 activity declined moderately (<20%) from 5 to 20 years and was similar at 10-20 years, whereas age-related declines are 40-60% in mice. Although mole-rats have low metabolic rates, their prolonged longevity results in a lifetime energy expenditure more than 4 times that of mice. Since lifetime energy expenditure is an important index of potential exposure to oxidative damage, naked mole-rats may be valuable for studying mechanisms of aging.

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