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Aging Proteins

March 4, 2009

Research in rodents suggests that some animals’ proteins are more resistant to age-related stress.


Anti-aging defenses. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Aging has been linked to cell damage from harmful chemicals called oxygen free radicals. But new research adds another piece to the puzzle. Physiologist Rochelle Buffenstein of the University of Texas Health Sciences Center and her colleagues compared mice to naked mole rats, which live ten times longer. Past studies found that the mole rats had no advantage in the free radical department.

ROCHELLE BUFFENSTEIN (University of Texas Health Sciences Center):
The reactive oxygen species levels were the same, the antioxidant defense was nothing special, and much to our surprise, they had very high levels of oxidative damage, even at a young age.

But her team found that the naked mole rats’ cellular proteins held their shape much better over time. She says that long-lived animals may have built-in protections that keep proteins intact and functional, even under stress. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.