Animal models of aging – the African naked mole rat

Animals which live extraordinary long lives can provide insight regarding the various theories of aging.  The longevity of the African naked mole rat seems to fly in the face of the the oxidative damage theory of aging, for example(ref).  This little critter is the size of a tiny mouse but lives about eight times longer.  Living up to 28 years,  it is the longest-living rodent.  Its secret to longevity is not known but there are clues.  For example they are very cool, they can all but shut down their metabolism, and they spend a great deal of their life sleeping.  Surprisingly, the markers of oxidative damage in these tiny rats exceed those of mice when they are relatively young.   However the rate of accrual of oxidative damage in these rats does not appear to markedly ramp up with age as it does with mice.  They change very little as they age and females more than 20 years old can give birth.  It seems that the mole rat has a powerful long-lived antioxidant defense system which mice do not have.  I suspect that this observation is just the tip of the iceberg and real insights will come from looking at genes and protein expression and how the rat mitochondria work.  Anyway, if you want a little critter pet that is cool and will not die off on you in a few years, here is your pet.  The only downside is that you won’t see much of your pet since it lives underground..

About Vince Giuliano

Being a follower, connoisseur, and interpreter of longevity research is my latest career. I have been at this part-time for well over a decade, and in 2007 this became my mainline activity. In earlier reincarnations of my career. I was founding dean of a graduate school and a university professor at the State University of New York, a senior consultant working in a variety of fields at Arthur D. Little, Inc., Chief Scientist and C00 of Mirror Systems, a software company, and an international Internet consultant. I got off the ground with one of the earliest PhD's from Harvard in a field later to become known as computer science. Because there was no academic field of computer science at the time, to get through I had to qualify myself in hard sciences, so my studies focused heavily on quantum physics. In various ways I contributed to the Computer Revolution starting in the 1950s and the Internet Revolution starting in the late 1980s. I am now engaged in doing the same for The Longevity Revolution. I have published something like 200 books and papers as well as over 430 substantive.entries in this blog, and have enjoyed various periods of notoriety. If you do a Google search on Vincent E. Giuliano, most if not all of the entries on the first few pages that come up will be ones relating to me. I have a general writings site at and an extensive site of my art at Please note that I have recently changed my mailbox to
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4 Responses to Animal models of aging – the African naked mole rat

  1. Res says:

    Interesting information.
    Earlier a bird species storm petrels were analyzed for the longevity. It is connected with telomeres.

    The birds’s telomeres lengthen over the period of time.

  2. admin says:

    Res: Extremely interesting articles. I get the following messages: 1. Since the storm petrels are tiny birds always on the go and live up to 40 years, this tends to knock out the theory that lifespan is centrally shaped by rate of metabolism. One explanation given for the long lifespan of the naked mole rat is that its existence is very laid back and it mostly sleeps. Its the opposite for the bird. 2. The accumulated oxidative damage theory of aging also does not seem very applicable for these birds since high metbolism generates a lot of free radicals. 3. The evidence connected with these and other birds is that long initial telomere lengths and telomere length maintenance are factors very correlated with longevity, e.g. a boost to the telomere shortening theory of aging. 4. Despite telomere lengths growing with age and low cancer rates these birds still die, suggesting that some other form of aging is operational and life-limiting for them.

  3. Res says:

    Vince: Nice summation. Regarding the 4th point, I guess the telomerase triggering mechanism in these birds dies slowly over the period of time. Someone should do the hayflick limit for the cells of these birds.

    Another sidenote: Is there any symptom named, that is opposite of progeria? I mean, a symptom by which the person does not age physically? ( I know of one such person who is 18 years old, but physically looks like 2 year old. The problem is that this person’s mental age is also 2 years old)

  4. admin says:

    Hi Res;. Thanks for your intelligent comments. No,I don’t know about an opposite physical condition to progeria, though one could well exist. Of course there is the situation in the movie The Strange Case of Benjamin Button but that one seems to violate the 2nd law of thermodynamics.

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