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Exp Gerontol. 2007 Jan-Feb;42(1-2):81-9. Epub 2006 Oct 17.

The short-lived fish Nothobranchius furzeri as a new model system for aging studies.

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Istituto di Neuroscienze del CNR, Pisa, Italy.


Genetic and pharmacological research on aging is hampered by the lifespan of available vertebrate models. We recently initiated studies on Nothobranchius furzeri, a species with a maximum life expectancy in captivity of just three months which represents the shortest documented captive lifespan for a vertebrate. Further research on N. furzeri has demonstrated that 1. Short lifespan is tied with explosive growth and accelerated sexual maturation. 2. Short lifespan is correlated with expression of age-related behavioral and histological changes. 3. Lifespan and expression of age-related markers can be modulated by water temperature. 4. Resveratrol, a drug characterized for its life-extending action in Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila, increases lifespan and retards expression of age-related markers. 5. Aging-related genes can be easily isolated by homology cloning. Finally, different populations or species of Nothobranchius show large-scale differences in captive lifespan. In the last three years, N. furzeri has moved from biological curiosity to a promising model system for drug validation. Furthermore, this species occupies a favorable position in the Teleost's "tree of life". It is very close to the Japanese Medaka, and close to the pufferfishes and stickleback and might represent a very useful model for comparative genomics of aging.

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