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Exp Gerontol. 2008 Oct;43(10):900-8. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2008.08.005. Epub 2008 Aug 12.

Protein accumulation underlying lifespan extension via ovariectomy in grasshoppers is consistent with the disposable soma hypothesis but is not due to dietary restriction.

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University of North Florida, Department of Biology, Jacksonville FL 32224, USA.


Reduced reproduction extends lifespan in many experimental animals, but the mechanism by which this occurs is unclear. The disposable soma hypothesis suggests that when reproduction is reduced, more nutrients are allocated to the soma and lifespan is extended. Alternatively, the reproductive tissues or the process of reproduction may have a direct (i.e., non-nutritional) negative effect on lifespan. We used ovariectomized grasshoppers to examine the effects of reduced reproduction throughout the lifespan at the physiological level. We focused on protein, the limiting nutrient for egg production. Ovariectomized females lived significantly longer than sham females. Because both groups ingested similar amounts, the effect was independent of dietary restriction. Despite this, ovariectomized females gained less body mass than sham females. Ovariectomized grasshoppers produced the egg yolk-precursor protein vitellogenin. At the time sham females laid their first clutch, cumulative reproductive protein was similar in ovariectomized and sham females. By advanced ages, however, ovariectomized females had produced about five-fold less cumulative reproductive protein than sham females. In contrast, old ovariectomized females had at least two-fold more hemolymph storage protein. These results are consistent with ovariectomy extending lifespan in part via enhanced protein allocation to storage at the expense of reproduction.

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