Mutant animals characterized by extended longevity provide valuable tools to study the mechanisms of aging. Growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) constitute one of the well-established pathways involved in the regulation of aging and lifespan. Ames and Snell dwarf mice characterized by GH deficiency as well as growth hormone receptor/growth hormone binding protein knockout (GHRKO) mice characterized by GH resistance live significantly longer than genetically normal animals. During normal aging of rodents and humans there is increased insulin resistance, disruption of metabolic activities and decline of the function of the immune system. All of these age related processes promote inflammatory activity, causing long term tissue damage and systemic chronic inflammation. However, studies of long living mutants and calorie restricted animals show decreased pro-inflammatory activity with increased levels of anti-inflammatory adipokines such as adiponectin. At the same time, these animals have improved insulin signaling and carbohydrate homeostasis that relate to alterations in the secretory profile of adipose tissue including increased production and release of anti-inflammatory adipokines. This suggests that reduced inflammation promoting healthy metabolism may represent one of the major mechanisms of extended longevity in long-lived mutant mice and likely also in the human.
Ghowth hormone; obesity; inflammation; calorie restriction; aging
A positive relationship between stress resistance and longevity has been reported in a multitude of studies in organisms ranging from yeast to mice. Several mouse lines have been discovered or developed that exhibit extended longevities when compared with normal, wild-type mice of the same genetic background. These long-living lines include the Ames dwarf, Snell dwarf, growth hormone receptor knockout (Laron dwarf), IGF-1 receptor heterozygote, Little, α-MUPA knockout, p66shc knockout, FIRKO, mClk-1 heterozygote, thioredoxin transgenic, and most recently the Klotho transgenic mouse. These mice are described in terms of the reported extended lifespans and studies involving resistance to stress. In addition, caloric restriction (CR) and stress resistance are briefly addressed for comparison with genetically altered mice. Although many of the long-living mice have GH/IGF-1/insulin signaling-related alterations and enhanced stress resistance, there are some that exhibit life extension without an obvious link to this hormone pathway. Resistance to oxidative stress is by far the most common system studied in long-living mice, but there is evidence of enhancement of resistance in other systems as well. The differences in stress resistance between long-living mutant and normal mice result from complex interrelationships among pathways that appear to coordinate signals of growth and metabolism, and subsequently result in differences in lifespan.
mutant mice; lifespan; oxidative stress; hormesis
Previous studies have shown that dermal fibroblast cell lines derived from young adult mice of the long-lived Snell dwarf (dw/dw), Ames dwarf (df/df) and growth hormone receptor knockout (GHR-KO) mouse stocks are resistant, in vitro, to the cytotoxic effects of hydrogen peroxide, cadmium, ultraviolet light, paraquat, and heat. Here we show that, in contrast, fibroblasts from mice on low-calorie (CR) or low methionine (Meth-R) diets are not stress resistant in culture, despite the longevity induced by both dietary regimes. A second approach, involving induction of liver cell death in live animals using acetaminophen (APAP), documented hepatotoxin resistance in the CR and Meth-R mice, but dw/dw and GHR-KO mutant mice were not resistant to this agent, and were in fact more susceptible than littermate controls to the toxic effects of APAP. These data thus suggest that while resistance to stress is a common characteristic of experimental life span extension in mice, the cell types showing resistance may differ among the various models of delayed or decelerated aging.
Stress resistance; Caloric restriction; Methionine restriction; Snell dwarf; Growth hormone receptor knockout
Skin-derived fibroblasts from long-lived mutant mice, including the Snell dwarf mice and mice defective in growth hormone receptor (“GHRKO”), are resistant to death induced by oxidative stresses or by UV light, but the molecular mechanism for their stress resistance is unknown. The present study showed that phosphorylation of the stress-activated protein kinases ERK1/2 induced by peroxide, cadmium, or paraquat was attenuated in cells from these mice. Induction of ERK phosphorylation by UV light was not altered in the Snell dwarf cells, and neither JNK nor p38 kinases showed increased phosphorylation in response to any of the stresses tested. Surprisingly, stress-induced elevation of mRNA for certain Immediate Early Genes (egr-1 and fos) was higher in Snell-derived cells than in control cells, despite the evidence of lower ERK phosphorylation. Thus cells from Snell dwarf mice differ from controls in two ways: (a) lower induction of ERK1/2 phosphorylation, and (b) increased expression of some ERK-dependent IEGs. These alterations in kinase pathways may contribute to the resistance of these cells to lethal injury.
Recent landmark molecular genetic studies have identified an evolutionarily conserved insulin/IGF-1 signal transduction pathway that regulates lifespan. In C. elegans, Drosophila, and rodents, attenuated insulin/IGF-1 signaling appears to regulate lifespan and enhance resistance to environmental stress. The Ames (Prop1df/df) and Snell (Pit1dw/dw) hypopituitary dwarf mice with growth hormone (GH), thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), and prolactin deficiencies live 40–60% longer than control mice. Both mutants are resistant to multiple forms of environmental stress in vitro. Taken collectively, these genetic models indicate that diminished insulin/IGF-l signaling may play a central role in the determination of mammalian lifespan by conferring resistance to exogenous and endogenous stressors. These pleiotropic endocrine pathways control diverse programs of gene expression that appear to orchestrate the development of a biological phenotype that promotes longevity. With the ability to investigate thousands of genes simultaneously, several microarray surveys have identified potential longevity assurance genes and provided information on the mechanism(s) by which the dwarf genotypes (dw/dw) and (df/df), and caloric restriction may lead to longevity. We propose that a comparison of specific changes in gene expression shared between Snell and Ames dwarf mice may provide a deeper understanding of the transcriptional mechanisms of longevity determination. Furthermore, we propose that a comparison of the physiological consequences of the Pit1dw and Prop1df mutations may reveal transcriptional profiles similar to those reported for the C. elegans and Drosophila mutants. In this study we have identified classes of genes whose expression is similarly affected in both Snell and Ames dwarf mice. Our comparative microarray data suggest that specific detoxification enzymes of the P450 (CYP) family as well as oxidative and steroid metabolism may play a key role in longevity assurance of the Snell and Ames dwarf mouse mutants. We propose that the altered expression of these genes defines a biochemical phenotype which may promote longevity in Snell and Ames dwarf mice.
Aging; Ames Dwarf; Detoxification; Metabolism; P450; PPAR; ROS; Snell Dwarf; Steriod
Mutant dwarf and calorie-restricted mice benefit from healthy aging and unusually long lifespan. In contrast, mouse models for DNA repair-deficient progeroid syndromes age and die prematurely. To identify mechanisms that regulate mammalian longevity, we quantified the parallels between the genome-wide liver expression profiles of mice with those two extremes of lifespan. Contrary to expectation, we find significant, genome-wide expression associations between the progeroid and long-lived mice. Subsequent analysis of significantly over-represented biological processes revealed suppression of the endocrine and energy pathways with increased stress responses in both delayed and premature aging. To test the relevance of these processes in natural aging, we compared the transcriptomes of liver, lung, kidney, and spleen over the entire murine adult lifespan and subsequently confirmed these findings on an independent aging cohort. The majority of genes showed similar expression changes in all four organs, indicating a systemic transcriptional response with aging. This systemic response included the same biological processes that are triggered in progeroid and long-lived mice. However, on a genome-wide scale, transcriptomes of naturally aged mice showed a strong association to progeroid but not to long-lived mice. Thus, endocrine and metabolic changes are indicative of “survival” responses to genotoxic stress or starvation, whereas genome-wide associations in gene expression with natural aging are indicative of biological age, which may thus delineate pro- and anti-aging effects of treatments aimed at health-span extension.
To identify mechanisms that regulate mammalian longevity, we have quantified the expression parallels of a number of long-lived mice that show delayed aging and DNA repair mutants that age and die prematurely. Unexpectedly, we found significant, genome-wide similarities and a widespread overlap of over-represented biological processes in the transcriptomes of these disparate mouse strains. Subsequent analysis revealed that similar responses are triggered constitutively in a number of organs in aged mice. Thus, both intrinsic and environmental stressors (e.g., aging, genome instability, or food shortage) induce survival responses aimed at overcoming crisis and extending lifespan. Such survival responses are likely to allow assessment of biological age as well as provide valuable targets for therapies aimed at health-span extension.
Reduced insulin sensitivity and glucose intolerance have been long suspected of having important involvement in aging. Here we report that in studies of calorie restriction (CR) effects in mutant (Prop1df and growth hormone receptor knockout [GHRKO]) and normal mice, insulin sensitivity was strongly associated with longevity. Of particular interest was enhancement of the already increased insulin sensitivity in CR df/df mice in which longevity was also further extended and the lack of changes in insulin sensitivity in calorically restricted GHRKO mice in which there was no further increase in average life span. We suggest that enhanced insulin sensitivity, in conjunction with reduced insulin levels, may represent an important (although almost certainly not exclusive) mechanism of increased longevity in hypopituitary, growth hormone (GH)-resistant, and calorie-restricted animals. We also report that the effects of GH treatment on insulin sensitivity may be limited to the period of GH administration.
Insulin; Longevity; GHRKO; Ames dwarf
Long-lived strains of dwarf mice carry mutations that suppress growth hormone (GH) and insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) signaling. The downstream effects of these endocrine abnormalities, however, are not well understood and it is unclear how these processes interact with aging mechanisms. This study presents a comparative analysis of microarray experiments that have measured hepatic gene expression levels in long-lived strains carrying one of four mutations (Prop1df/df, Pit1dw/dw, Ghrhrlit/lit, GHR-KO) and describes how the effects of these mutations relate to one another at the transcriptional level. Points of overlap with the effects of calorie restriction (CR), CR mimetic compounds, low fat diets, gender dimorphism and aging were also examined.
All dwarf mutations had larger and more consistent effects on IGF-I expression than dietary treatments. In comparison to dwarf mutations, however, the transcriptional effects of CR (and some CR mimetics) overlapped more strongly with those of aging. Surprisingly, the Ghrhrlit/lit mutation had much larger effects on gene expression than the GHR-KO mutation, even though both mutations affect the same endocrine pathway. Several genes potentially regulated or co-regulated with the IGF-I transcript in liver tissue were identified, including a DNA repair gene (Snm1) that is upregulated in proportion to IGF-I inhibition. A total of 13 genes exhibiting parallel differential expression patterns among all four strains of long-lived dwarf mice were identified, in addition to 30 genes with matching differential expression patterns in multiple long-lived dwarf strains and under CR.
Comparative analysis of microarray datasets can identify patterns and consistencies not discernable from any one dataset individually. This study implements new analytical approaches to provide a detailed comparison among the effects of life-extending mutations, dietary treatments, gender and aging. This comparison provides insight into a broad range of issues relevant to the study of mammalian aging. In this context, 43 longevity-associated genes are identified and individual genes with the highest level of support among all microarray experiments are highlighted. These results provide promising targets for future experimental investigation as well as potential clues for understanding the functional basis of lifespan extension in mammalian systems.
Snell dwarf mice have multiple hormonal deficits, but the way in which these deficits postpone aging are still uncertain. In this study, Snell dwarf mice received 11 weeks of growth hormone and thyroxine injections that increased their weight by approximately 45%, although they remained much smaller than controls. The hormone treatment also restored fertility to male dwarf mice. Despite these effects on growth and maturation, the hormone treatments did not diminish life span or lower the resistance of dwarf mice to cataracts and kidney disease. Administration of thyroxine in food throughout adult life did diminish longevity of Snell dwarf mice, although these mice remain longer lived than control animals. These results show that a 45% increase in body size does not impair longevity or disease resistance for dwarf mice of either sex, and that the exceptional longevity of Snell dwarf mice does not, at least for males, depend on prepubertal immaturity.
Most mutations that delay aging and prolong lifespan in the mouse are related to somatotropic and/or insulin signaling. Calorie restriction (CR) is the only intervention that reliably increases mouse longevity. There is considerable phenotypic overlap between long-lived mutant mice and normal mice on chronic CR. Therefore, we investigated the interactive effects of CR and targeted disruption or knock out of the growth hormone receptor (GHRKO) in mice on longevity and the insulin signaling cascade. Every other day feeding corresponds to a mild (i.e. 15%) CR which increased median lifespan in normal mice but not in GHRKO mice corroborating our previous findings on the effects of moderate (30%) CR on the longevity of these animals. To determine why insulin sensitivity improves in normal but not GHRKO mice in response to 30% CR, we conducted insulin stimulation experiments after one year of CR. In normal mice, CR increased the insulin stimulated activation of the insulin signaling cascade (IR/IRS/PI3K/AKT) in liver and muscle. Livers of GHRKO mice responded to insulin by increased activation of the early steps of insulin signaling, which was dissipated by altered PI3K subunit abundance which putatively inhibited AKT activation. In the muscle of GHRKO mice, there was elevated downstream activation of the insulin signaling cascade (IRS/PI3K/AKT) in the absence of elevated IR activation. Further, we found a major reduction of inhibitory Ser phosphorylation of IRS-1 seen exclusively in GHRKO muscle which may underpin their elevated insulin sensitivity. Chronic CR failed to further modify the alterations in insulin signaling in GHRKO mice as compared to normal mice, likely explaining or contributing to the absence of CR effects on insulin sensitivity and longevity in these long-lived mice.
After humans, mice are the best-studied mammalian species in terms of their biology and genetics. Gerontological research has used mice and rats extensively to generate short- and long-lived mutants, study caloric restriction and more. Mice and rats are valuable model organisms thanks to their small size, short lifespans and fast reproduction. However, when the goal is to further extend the already long human lifespan, studying fast aging species may not provide all the answers. Remarkably, in addition to the fast-aging species, the order Rodentia contains multiple long-lived species with lifespans exceeding 20 years (naked mole-rat, beavers, porcupines, and some squirrels). This diversity opens great opportunities for comparative aging studies. Here we discuss the evolution of lifespan in rodents, review the biology of slow-aging rodents, and show an example of how the use of a comparative approach revealed that telomerase activity coevolved with body mass in rodents.
Aging; Comparative studies; Rodents; Telomerase
Genetic suppression of insulin/insulin-like growth factor signaling (IIS) can extend longevity in worms, insects, and mammals. In laboratory mice, mutations with the greatest, most consistent, and best documented positive impact on lifespan are those that disrupt growth hormone (GH) release or actions. These mutations lead to major alterations in IIS but also have a variety of effects that are not directly related to the actions of insulin or insulin-like growth factor I. Long-lived GH-resistant GHR-KO mice with targeted disruption of the GH receptor gene, as well as Ames dwarf (Prop1df) and Snell dwarf (Pit1dw) mice lacking GH (along with prolactin and TSH), are diminutive in size and have major alterations in body composition and metabolic parameters including increased subcutaneous adiposity, increased relative brain weight, small liver, hypoinsulinemia, mild hypoglycemia, increased adiponectin levels and insulin sensitivity, and reduced serum lipids. Body temperature is reduced in Ames, Snell, and female GHR-KO mice. Indirect calorimetry revealed that both Ames dwarf and GHR-KO mice utilize more oxygen per gram (g) of body weight than sex- and age-matched normal animals from the same strain. They also have reduced respiratory quotient, implying greater reliance on fats, as opposed to carbohydrates, as an energy source. Differences in oxygen consumption (VO2) were seen in animals fed or fasted during the measurements as well as in animals that had been exposed to 30% calorie restriction or every-other-day feeding. However, at the thermoneutral temperature of 30°C, VO2 did not differ between GHR-KO and normal mice. Thus, the increased metabolic rate of the GHR-KO mice, at a standard animal room temperature of 23°C, is apparently related to increased energy demands for thermoregulation in these diminutive animals. We suspect that increased oxidative metabolism combined with enhanced fatty acid oxidation contribute to the extended longevity of GHR-KO mice.
growth hormone; aging; calorie restriction; dwarf mice; metabolism
Although studies of Ames and Snell dwarf mice have suggested possible important roles of the growth hormone (GH)/insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) axis in aging and age-related diseases, the results cannot rule out the possibility of other hormonal changes playing an important role in the life extension exhibited by these dwarf mice. Therefore, growth hormone receptor/binding protein (GHR/BP) knockout (KO) mice would be valuable animals to directly assess the roles of somatotropic axis in aging and age-related diseases because the primary hormonal change is due to GH/IGF-1 deficiency. Our pathological findings showed GHR/BP KO mice to have a lower incidence and delayed occurrence of fatal neoplastic lesions compared with their wild-type littermates. These changes of fatal neoplasms are similar to the effects observed with calorie restriction and therefore could possibly be a major contributing factor to the extended life span observed in the GHR/BP KO mice.
Growth hormone receptor/binding protein; Knockout mouse; Neoplastic disease; Aging
It is well known that somatotrophic/insulin signaling affects lifespan in experimental animals, and one of the signs of aging is progressive gonadal dysfunction.
To study the effects of insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) plasma level on ovaries, we analyzed ovaries isolated from 2-year-old growth hormone receptor knockout (GHR-KO) Laron dwarf mice, with low circulating plasma levels of IGF-1, and 6-month-old bovine growth hormone transgenic (bGHTg) mice, with high circulating plasma levels of IGF-1. The ages of the Laron dwarf mutants employed in our studies were selected based on their overall survival (up to ~ 4 years for Laron dwarf mice and ~ 1 year for bGHTg mice).
Morphological analysis of the ovaries of mice that reached ~50% of their maximal life span revealed a lower biological age for the ovaries isolated from 2-year-old Laron dwarf mice than their normal-lifespan wild type littermates. By contrast, the ovarian morphology of increased in size 6 month old bGHTg mice was generally normal.
Ovaries isolated from 2-year-old Laron dwarf mice exhibit a lower biological age compared with ovaries from normal WT littermates at the same age. At the same time, no morphological features of accelerated aging were found in 0.5-year-old bGHTg mice compared with ovaries from normal the same age-matched WT littermates.
Murine ovary; Laron dwarf mouse; Bovine growth hormone transgenic mouse; Growth hormone; Insulin-like growth factor-1; Aging
Genetic instability has been implicated as a causal factor in cancer and aging. Caloric restriction (CR) and suppression of the somatotroph axis significantly increase life span in the mouse and reduces multiple symptoms of aging, including cancer. To test if in vivo spontaneous mutation frequency is reduced by such mechanisms, we crossed long-lived Ames dwarf mice with a C57BL/6J line harboring multiple copies of the lacZ mutation reporter gene as part of a plasmid that can be recovered from tissues and organs into E. coli to measure mutant frequencies. Four cohorts were studied: (1) ad lib wild-type; (2) CR wild-type; (3) ad lib dwarf; and (4) CR dwarf. While both CR wild-type and ad lib dwarf mice lived significantly longer than the ad lib wild-type mice, under CR conditions dwarf mice did not live any longer than ad lib wild-type mice. While this may be due to an as yet unknown adverse effect of the C57Bl/6 background, it did not prevent an effect on spontaneous mutation frequencies at the lacZ locus, which were assessed in liver, kidney and small intestine of 7- and 15-month old mice of all four cohorts. A lower mutant frequency in the ad lib dwarf background was observed in liver and kidney at 7 and 15 months of age and in small intestine at 15 months of age as compared to the ad lib wild-type. CR also significantly reduced spontaneous mutant frequency in kidney and small intestine, but not in liver. In a separate cohort of lacZ-C57BL/6J mice CR was also found to significantly reduce spontaneous mutant frequency in liver and small intestine, across three age levels. These results indicate that two major pro-longevity interventions in the mouse are associated with a reduced mutation frequency. This could be responsible, at least in part, for the enhanced longevity associated with Ames dwarfism and CR.
Growth hormone (GH) signaling influences longevity in mice, with decreased GH signaling associated with longer life span and increased GH signaling with shortened life span. A proposed mechanism through which GH signaling influences life span postulates that decreased GH signaling lowers metabolic rate, thus slowing aging by decreasing production of damaging free radicals. The influence of altered GH signaling on metabolism was tested by monitoring oxygen consumption (VO2), respiratory quotient (RQ), and heat production in long-lived GH receptor knockout (GHRKO) and Ames dwarf mice, and short-lived bovine GH-overexpressing transgenic (bGH TG) mice. Intriguingly, both GHRKO and Ames dwarf mice have increased VO2 and heat per gram body weight, and decreased RQ, whereas bGH TG mice have decreased VO2 and heat per gram body weight and increased RQ. In conclusion, decreased GH signaling associates with increased metabolism per body weight and may beneficially affect mitochondrial flexibility by increasing the capacity for fat oxidation; generally, GH excess produces opposite metabolic effects.
Metabolism; Altered growth hormone signaling; Thyroid hormone; Oxygen consumption; Respiratory quotient
To investigate the influence of hormones on the process of cellular differentiation the growth and differentiation of a transplantable tumour, induced by inoculation of pluripotent mouse embryonal carcinoma (EC) cells have been studied in athymic nude mice and, normal and hypopituitary Snell dwarf mice. All athymic nude mice developed tumours independent of the numbers of cells inoculated. In contrast, the tumour percentage in normal Snell mice was lower, showing a dose-dependent increase of takes. In dwarfs tumour percentage was comparable with that observed in normal Snell mice. The morphological differentiation of teratocarcinomas grown in athymic nude mice, normal and dwarfed Snell mice shows derivatives of all three germ layers next to undifferentiated embryonal carcinoma cells. This suggests that the pituitary hormonal deficiencies of the dwarfs (growth hormone, thyroid stimulating hormone and prolactin) did not influence the tumour induction nor the development of the different tissues present in this type of tumour.
Pit1 null (Snell dwarf) and Proph1 null (Ames dwarf) mutant mice lack GH, PRL and TSH. Snell and Ames dwarf mice also exhibit reduced IGF-I, resistance to cancer and a longer lifespan than control mice. Endogenous glucose production during fasting is reduced in Snell dwarf mice compared to fasting control mice. In view of cancer cell dependence on glucose for energy, low endogenous glucose production may provide Snell dwarf mice with resistance to cancer. We investigated whether endogenous glucose production is lower in Snell dwarf mice during feeding. Inhibition of endogenous glucose production by glucose injection was enhanced in 12 to 14 month-old female Snell dwarf mice. Thus, we hypothesize that lower endogenous glucose production during feeding and fasting reduces cancer cell glucose utilization providing Snell dwarf mice with resistance to cancer. The elevation of circulating adiponectin, a hormone produced by adipose tissue, may contribute to the suppression of endogenous glucose production in 12 to 14 month-old Snell dwarf mice. We compared the incidence of cancer at time of death between old Snell dwarf and control mice. Only 18% of old Snell dwarf mice had malignant lesions at the time of death compared to 82% of control mice. The median ages at death for old Snell dwarf and control mice were 33 and 26 months, respectively. By contrast, previous studies showed a high incidence of cancer in old Ames dwarf mice at the time of death. Hence, resistance to cancer in old Snell dwarf mice may be mediated by neuroendocrine factors that reduce glucose utilization besides elevated adiponectin, reduced IGF-I and a lack of GH, PRL and TSH, seen in both Snell and Ames dwarf mice. Proteomics analysis of pituitary secretions from Snell dwarf mice confirmed the absence of GH and PRL, the secretion of ACTH and elevated secretion of Chromogranin B and Secretogranin II. Radioimmune assays confirmed that circulating Chromogranin B and Secretogranin II were elevated in 12 to 14 month-old Snell dwarf mice. In summary, our results in Snell dwarf mice suggest that the pituitary gland and adipose tissue are part of a neuroendocrine loop that lowers the risk of cancer during aging by reducing the availability of glucose.
Glucose; Cancer; Adiponectin; Growth hormone; Dwarf mice; Pituitary; Chromogranins
Insulin/insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) pathways are recognized as critical signaling pathways involved in the control of lifespans in lower organisms to mammals. Caloric restriction (CR) reduces plasma concentration of insulin, growth hormone (GH), and IGF-I. CR retards various age-dependent disorders such as nuerodegenerative diseases and extends lifespan in laboratory rodents. These beneficial effects of CR are partly mimicked in spontaneous or genetically engineered rodent models of reduced insulin and GH/IGF-I axis. Most of these long-living rodents show increased insulin sensitivity; however, recent study has revealed that some other rodents show normal or reduced insulin sensitivity. Thus, increased insulin sensitivity might be not prerequisite for lifespan extension in insulin/GH/IGF-I altered longevity rodent models. These results highlighted that, for lifespan extension, the intracellular signaling molecules of insulin/GH/IGF-I pathways might be more important than actual peripheral or systemic insulin action.
Insulin; GH; IGF-I; calorie restriction.
Altered somatotrophic signaling is among the most important potential mechanisms of extended longevity. Ames dwarf (df/df) mice are homozygous for mutation at the Prop-1 gene, leading to a lack of growth hormone (GH), prolactin and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). Mice homozygous for targeted disruption of the growth hormone receptor/growth hormone binding protein gene are known as GH receptor knockout (GHRKO) mice or “Laron dwarf”. Both, df/df and GHRKO mice, are characterized by reduced body size, low plasma insulin and insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), remarkably extended longevity, and severe (in df/df mice) or mild (in GHRKO mice) thyroid hypofunction. Recently, by crossing df/df and GHRKO mice, double-mutant Ames dwarf/GHRKO (df/KO) mice were created. Interestingly, these mice are smaller than Ames dwarfs or GHRKOs, and also have reduced insulin and IGF-I levels. The aim of the study was to investigate if and to what extent certain thyroid morphological parameters, such as inner follicular surface area, inner follicular perimeter, as well as the follicular epithelium thickness are changed in the examined dwarf mice.
This quantification was performed in thyroids collected from df/df, GHRKO and df/KO female mice, at approximately 5–6 months of age. We used a computerized plotting programme that combines a live microscopic image of the slide with an operator-generated overlay.
Inner follicular surface area and inner follicular perimeter were decreased in all examined kinds of dwarf mice as compared to normal animals. Furthermore, decreases in these two parameters were more pronounced in df/df and df/KO than in GHRKO mice. Concerning the follicular epithelium thickness, only a tendency towards decrease of this parameter was found in all three kinds of dwarf mice.
Parameters characterizing thyroid follicle size are decreased in all three examined models of dwarf mice, which may explain decreased thyroid hormone levels in both basal mutants (Ames dwarfs and GHRKOs). df/df mutation seems to predominate over GHRKO genetic intervention concerning their effects on thyroid growth. Beside TSH, also GH signaling seems to constitute a crucial element in the regulation of thyroid growth and, possibly, function.
Ames dwarf mice; GHRKO mice; Thyroid follicle; Inner follicular surface area; Inner follicular perimeter; Follicular epithelium thickness
Heat shock proteins (HSPs) maintain proteostasis and may protect against age-associated pathology caused by protein malfolding. In C. elegans, the lifespan extension and thermotolerance in mutants with impaired insulin/IGF signals depends partly on HSP elevation. Less is known about the role of HSPs in the increased lifespan of mice with defects in GH/IGF-I pathways. We measured HSP mRNAs in liver, kidney, heart, lung, muscle and cerebral cortex from long-lived Pit1(dw/dw) Snell dwarf mice. We found many significant differences in HSP mRNA levels between dwarf and control mice, but these effects were complex and organ-specific. We noted 15 instances where HSP mRNAs were lower in Pit1(dw/dw) liver, kidney, or heart tissues, and 14/15 of these were also seen in Ghr(-/-) mice, which lack GH receptor. In contrast, of 12 examples where HSP mRNAs were higher in Snell liver, kidney, or heart, none were altered in Ghr(-/-) mice. Four liver mRNAs were depressed in both Pit1(dw/dw) and Ghr(-/-) mice, and each of these was elevated by GH injection in Ames (Prop1(df/df)) dwarf mice, consistent with the hypothesis that these declines depended on GH and/or IGF-I. Contributions of chaperones to longevity in mice may be more complex than those inferred from C. elegans.
Insulin/insulin-like growth factor type 1 signaling regulates lifespan and resistance to oxidative stress in worms, flies, and mammals. In a previous study, we revealed that insulin receptor (IR) mutant mice, which carry a homologous mutation found in the long-lived daf-2 mutant of Caenorhabditis elegans, showed enhanced resistance to oxidative stress cooperatively modulated by sex hormones and dietary signals (Baba et al., (2005)). We herein investigated the lifespan of IR mutant mice to evaluate the biological significance of insulin signaling in mice. Under normoxia, mutant male mice had a lifespan comparable to that of wild-type male mice. IR mutant female mice also showed a lifespan similar to that of wild-type female mice, in spite of the fact that the IR mutant female mice acquired more resistance to oxidative stress than IR mutant male mice. On the other hand, IR mutant male and female mice both showed insulin resistance with hyperinsulinemia, but they did not develop hyperglycemia throughout their entire lifespan. These data indicate that the IR mutation does not impact the lifespan in mice, thus suggesting that insulin signaling might have a limited effect on the lifespan of mice.
Dermal fibroblasts from long-lived Snell dwarf mice can withstand a variety of oxidative and non-oxidative stressors compared to normal littermate controls. Here, we report differences in the levels and activities of intracellular antioxidant and DNA repair enzymes between normal and Snell dwarf mice fibroblasts cultured under a variety of conditions, including: 3% and 20% ambient O2; the presence and absence of serum; and the addition of an exogenous oxidative stress. The only significant difference between normal and dwarf cells cultured in complete medium, at 20% O2, was an approximately 40% elevation of glutathione peroxidase (GPx) activity in the mutant cells. Serum deprivation elicited increases in GPx in both genotypes, but these activities remained higher in dwarf mouse cells. Dwarf mouse cells deprived of serum and challenged with exposure to paraquat or hydrogen peroxide showed a generally greater upregulation of catalase and DNA base excision repair enzymes. As these toxins can interact with mitochondria to increase mitochondrial ROS production, we explored whether there were differences in mitochondrial metabolism between normal and dwarf mouse cells. However, neither mitochondrial content nor the apparent mitochondrial membrane potential differed between genotypes. Overall, the results suggest that superior hydrogen peroxide metabolism and a marginally greater DNA base excision repair capacity contribute to the stress resistance phenotype of Snell dwarf mouse fibroblasts.
intracellular antioxidant enzymes; base excision repair (BER); fibroblasts; Snell dwarf mice; stress resistance; lifespan; serum deprivation; paraquat; hydrogen peroxide
Mice are an ideal mammalian model for studying the genetics of aging: considerable resources are available, the generation time is short, and the environment can be easily controlled, an important consideration when performing mapping studies to identify genes that influence lifespan and age-related diseases. In this review we highlight some salient contributions of the mouse in aging research: lifespan intervention studies in the Interventions Testing Program of the National Institute on Aging; identification of the genetic underpinnings of the effects of calorie restriction on lifespan; the Aging Phenome Project at the Jackson Laboratory, which has submitted multiple large, freely available phenotyping datasets to the Mouse Phenome Database; insights from spontaneous and engineered mouse mutants; and complex traits analyses identifying quantitative trait loci that affect lifespan. We also show that genomewide association peaks for lifespan in humans and lifespan quantitative loci for mice map to homologous locations in the genome. Thus, the vast bioinformatic and genetic resources of the mouse can be used to screen candidate genes identified in both mouse and human mapping studies, followed by functional testing, often not possible in humans, to determine their influence on aging.
aging; calorie restriction (CR); gene mutation; genetics; lifespan; longevity; mouse genome; quantitative trait locus (QTL)
Long-lived mutant mice, both Ames dwarf and growth hormone receptor gene disrupted or knockout (GHRKO) strains, exhibit heightened cognitive robustness and altered IGF1 signaling in the brain. Here we report, in both these long-lived mice, that three up-regulated lead microRNAs, miR-470, −669b, and −681, are involved in post-transcriptional regulation of genes pertinent to growth hormone (GH)/IGF1 signaling. All three are most prominently localized in the hippocampus, and correspond to reduced expression of key IGF1 signaling genes: IGF1, IGF1R, and PI3 kinase. The decline in these genes’ expression translates into decreased phosphorylation of downstream molecules AKT and FoxO3a. Cultures transfected with either miR-470, −669b, or −681 show repressed endogenous expression of all three genes of the IGF1 signaling axis, most significantly IGF1R, while other similarly up-regulated microRNAs, including let-7g and miR-509, do not induce the same levels of repression. Transduction study in IGF1-responsive cell cultures shows significantly reduced IGF1R expression, and AKT to some extent, most notably by miR-681. This is accompanied by decreased levels of downstream phosphorylated forms of AKT and FoxO3a upon IGF1 stimulation. Suppression of IGF1R by the three microRNAs is further validated by IGF1R 3′UTR reporter assays. Taken together, our results suggest that miR-470, miR-669b, and miR-681 are all functionally able to suppress IGF1R and AKT, two upstream genes controlling FoxO3a phosphorylation status. Their up-regulation in GH signaling-deficient mutant mouse brain suggests reduced IGF1 signaling at the post-transcriptional level, for numerous gains of neuronal function in these long-lived mice.
microRNA; aging; IGF1; IGF1R; growth hormone; Ames dwarf mice and GHRKO mice; miR-470; miR-669b; miR-681; cognitive robustness and longevity