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1.  Metformin improves healthspan and lifespan in mice 
Nature communications  2013;4:2192.
Metformin is a drug commonly prescribed to treat patients with type 2 diabetes. Here we show that long-term treatment with metformin (0.1% w/w in diet) starting at middle age extends healthspan and lifespan in male mice, while a higher dose (1% w/w) was toxic. Treatment with metformin mimics some of the benefits of calorie restriction, such as improved physical performance, increased insulin sensitivity, and reduced LDL and cholesterol levels without a decrease in caloric intake. At a molecular level, metformin increases AMP-activated protein kinase activity and increases antioxidant protection, resulting in reductions in both oxidative damage accumulation and chronic inflammation. Our results indicate that these actions may contribute to the beneficial effects of metformin on healthspan and lifespan. These findings are in agreement with current epidemiological data and raise the possibility of metformin-based interventions to promote healthy aging.
PMCID: PMC3736576  PMID: 23900241
2.  Age-related cataract in dogs: a biomarker for life span and its relation to body size 
Age  2010;33(3):451-460.
Clinical data from 72 dog breeds of varying size and life expectancy were grouped according to breed body mass and tested for prevalence at ages 4 to 5, ages 7 to 10, and lifetime incidence of non-hereditary, age-related cataract (ARC). The incidence of ARC was found to be directly related to the relative life expectancies in the breed groups: The smallest dog breeds had a lower ARC prevalence between ages 4 and 5 than mid-size breeds and these, in turn, a lower prevalence than the giant breeds. A similar sequence was evident for ages 7 to 10 and for overall lifetime incidence of ARC. These differences became more significant when comparing small and giant breeds only. We could also confirm the inverse relationship between body size and life expectancy in these same sets of dog breeds. Our results show that body size, life expectancy, and ARC incidence are interrelated in dogs. Given that ARC has been shown to be at least partially caused by oxidative damage to lens epithelial cells and the internal lens, we suggest that it can be considered not only as a general biomarker for life expectancy in the canine and possibly other species, but also for the systemic damages produced by reactive oxygen species. This suggests new approaches to examine the gene expression pathways affecting the above-noted linkages.
PMCID: PMC3168595  PMID: 20607428
Dog; Age-related cataract; Breeds; Size; Life span
4.  Age-related retention of fiber cell nuclei and nuclear fragments in the lens cortices of multiple species 
Molecular Vision  2011;17:2672-2684.
To determine the differences between species in the retention of lens fiber cell nuclei and nuclear fragments in the aging lens cortex and the relationship of nuclear retention to lens opacity. For this purpose old human, monkey, dog, and rat lenses were compared to those of three strains of mouse. We also investigated possible mechanisms leading to nuclear retention.
Fixed specimens of the species referred to above were obtained from immediate on site sacrifice of mice and rats, or from recently fixed lenses of other species, dogs, monkeys, and humans, obtained from collaborators. The retention of undegraded nuclei and nuclear fragments was graded 1–4 from histologic observation. All species lenses were examined microscopically in fixed sections stained with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) or 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI). Slit lamp observations were made only on the mice and rats before sacrifice and lens fixation. Values of 0 to 4 (clear lens to cataract) were given to degree of opacity. MRNA content in young versus old C57BL/6 mouse lenses was determined by quantitative PCR (qPCR) for DNase II-like acid DNase (DLAD) and other proteins. DLAD protein was determined by immunofluorescence of fixed eye sections.
In old C57BL/6 and DBA mice and, to a lesser degree, in old CBA mice and old Brown Norway (BN) rats lenses were seen to contain a greatly expanded pool of unresolved whole nuclei or fragments of nuclei in differentiating lens fiber cells. This generally correlated with increased slit lamp opacities in these mice. Most old dog lenses also had an increase in retained cortical nuclei, as did a few old humans. However, a second rat strain, BNF1, in which opacity was quite high had no increase in retained nuclei with age nor did any of the old monkeys, indicating that retained nuclei could not be a cause of opacity in these animals. The nuclei and nuclear fragments were located at all levels in the outer cortex extending inward from the lens equator and were observable by the DAPI. These nuclei and nuclear fragments were seen from 12 months onward in all C57BL/6 and DBA/2 mice and to a lesser degree in the CBA, increasing in number and in space occupancy with increasing age. Preliminary results suggest that retention of nuclei in the C57BL/6 mouse is correlated with an age-related loss of DLAD from old lenses.
A very marked apparently light refractive condition caused by retained cortical nuclei and nuclear fragments is present in the lens cortices, increasing with age in the three strains of mice examined and in one of two strains of rats (BN). This condition was also seen in some old dogs and a few old humans. It may be caused by an age-related loss of DLAD, which is essential for nuclear DNA degradation in the lens. However, this condition does not develop in old BNF1 rats, or old monkeys and is only seen sporadically in humans. Thus, it can not be a universal cause for age related lens opacity or cataract presence, although it develops concurrently with opacity in mice. This phenomenon should be considered when using the old mouse as a model for human age-related cataract.
PMCID: PMC3209424  PMID: 22065920
5.  Correction: Disruption of Protein Kinase A in Mice Enhances Healthy Aging 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):10.1371/annotation/c7cad2dc-1eca-487e-89ae-151a22d8a0b4.
PMCID: PMC2820562
6.  Correction: Disruption of Protein Kinase A in Mice Enhances Healthy Aging 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(2):10.1371/annotation/d51a16b6-dc82-4cdb-8118-d7c982233d7c.
PMCID: PMC2820560
7.  X-Ray induced cataract is preceded by LEC loss, and coincident with accumulation of cortical DNA, and ROS; similarities with age-related cataracts 
Molecular Vision  2010;16:1496-1513.
To compare age-related cataractous (ARC) changes in unirradiated mice lenses to those induced by head-only X-irradiation of 3 month-old mice.
lens epithelial cells (LECs) as well as partially degraded cortical DNA were visualized in fixed sections using 4',6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) staining, and in fresh lenses using the vital stain Hoechst 33342. reactive oxygen species (ROS) activity was also visualized directly in fresh lenses using the vital dye Dihydrorhodamine (DHR). In fixed lenses an antibody specific for 8-OH Guanosine (8-OH-G) lesions was used to visualize DNA oxidative adducts from ROS damage. Alpha smooth muscle actin was visualized using specific antibodies to determine if myofibroblasts were present. Fluorescence was quantified using Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy (LSCM). The degree of lens opacity and cataract formation was determined by slit lamp, or from digitalized images of light reflections taken with a low magnification light microscope.
Using DNA- and ROS-specific vital fluorescent dyes, and laser scanning confocal microscopy we have previously described 4 changes in the aging rodent lenses: 1) a significantly decreased density of surface LECs in lenses from old compared to younger mice and rats; 2) a very large increase in retained cortical nuclei and DNA fragments in the secondary lens fibers of old rodent lenses; 3) increased cortical ROS in old rodent lenses; 4) increased cataract concomitantly with the cortical DNA and ROS increases. In the current study we report that these same 4 changes also occur in an accelerated fashion in mice given head-only X-irradiation at 3 months of age. In addition to vital staining of fresh lenses, we also examined sections from fixed eyes stained with DAPI or hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) and found the same loss of surface LECs and accumulation of undigested nuclei and debris in secondary lens fibers occur with age or following X-irradiation. In addition sections from fixed-eyes were examined for ROS damage to DNA with antibodies specific for 8-OH-G lesions. The frequency of 8-OH-G lesions increased dramatically in lenses from old unirradiated mice over 24 months of age, and similarly in X-irradiated lenses by 9–11 months post irradiation. The accumulation of cortical nuclei was not the result of conversion or invasion by myofibroblasts as tested by antibodies to a marker for such cells, alpha smooth muscle actin.
X-irradiation damage induces a large decrease in surface LECs over a period of 3–11 months post X-irradiation of young mice. These changes are similar in extent to those seen in 24–29 months-old control mouse lenses with age-related cataracts. In 24+ month-old unirradiated mice the secondary lens fibers are not able to degrade nuclei or nuclear DNA efficiently and accumulate large numbers of cortical nuclei and nuclear fragments as well as ROS and 8-OHG lesions. X-irradiated lenses develop the same abnormalities in a more accelerated fashion. The extensive loss of LECS and accumulation of undegraded nuclei, ROS, and ROS damage may play a causal role in cataract generation in both unirradiated old mice and in previously irradiated young adult mice.
PMCID: PMC2925908  PMID: 20806081
8.  Resveratrol delays age-related deterioration and mimics transcriptional aspects of dietary restriction without extending lifespan 
Cell metabolism  2008;8(2):157-168.
A small molecule that safely mimics the ability of dietary restriction (DR) to delay age-related diseases in laboratory animals is greatly sought after. We and others have shown that resveratrol mimics effects of DR in lower organisms. In mice, we find that resveratrol induces gene expression patterns in multiple tissues that parallel those induced by DR and every-other-day feeding. Moreover, resveratrol-fed elderly mice show a marked reduction in signs of aging including reduced albuminuria, decreased inflammation and apoptosis in the vascular endothelium, increased aortic elasticity, greater motor coordination, reduced cataract formation, and preserved bone mineral density. However, mice fed a standard diet did not live longer when treated with resveratrol beginning at 12 months of age. Our findings indicate that resveratrol treatment has a range of beneficial effects in mice but does not increase the longevity of ad libitum-fed animals when started mid-life.
PMCID: PMC2538685  PMID: 18599363
9.  Disruption of Protein Kinase A in Mice Enhances Healthy Aging 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(6):e5963.
Mutations that cause a reduction in protein kinase A (PKA) activity have been shown to extend lifespan in yeast. Loss of function of mammalian RIIβ, a regulatory subunit of PKA expressed in brain and adipose tissue, results in mice that are lean and insulin sensitive. It was therefore hypothesized that RIIB null (RIIβ−/−) mice would express anti-aging phenotypes. We conducted lifespan studies using 40 mutant and 40 wild type (WT) littermates of equal gender numbers and found that both the median and maximum lifespans were significantly increased in mutant males compared to WT littermates. The median lifespan was increased from 884 days to 1005 days (p = 0.006 as determined by the log rank test) and the 80% lifespan (defined here as 80% deaths) was increased from 941 days to 1073 days (p = 0.004 as determined by the Wang-Allison test). There was no difference in either median or 80% lifespan in female genotypes. WT mice of both genders became increasingly obese with age, while mutant mice maintained their lean phenotype into old age. Adiposity was found to correlate with lifespan for males only. 50% of male mice between 30 and 35 g, corresponding to about 5% body fat, for either genotype lived over 1000 days. No male mouse outside of this weight range achieved this lifespan. During their last month of life, WT mice began losing weight (a total of 8% and 15% of body weight was lost for males and females, respectively), but RIIβ−/− male mice maintained their lean body mass to end of life. This attenuation of decline was not seen in female mutant mice. Old male mutant mice were insulin sensitive throughout their life. Both genders showed modestly lower blood glucose levels in old mutants compared to WT. Male mutants were also resistant to age-induced fatty liver. Pathological assessment of tissues from end of life male mutant mice showed a decrease in tumor incidence, decreased severity of renal lesions, and a trend towards a decrease in age-related cardiac pathology. These findings help establish the highly conserved nature of PKA and suggest that disruption of PKA affects physiological mechanisms known to be associated with healthy aging.
PMCID: PMC2693670  PMID: 19536287
10.  Radiation cataracts: mechanisms involved in their long delayed occurrence but then rapid progression 
Molecular Vision  2008;14:274-285.
This study was directed to assess the DNA damage and DNA repair response to X-ray inflicted lens oxidative damage and to investigate the subsequent changes in lens epithelial cell (LEC) behavior in vivo that led to long delayed but then rapidly developing cataracts.
Two-month-old C57Bl/6 female mice received 11 Grays (Gy) of soft x-irradiation to the head only. The animals’ eyes were examined for cataract status in 30 day intervals by slit lamp over an 11 month period post-irradiation. LEC migration, DNA fragment, free DNA retention, and reactive oxygen species (ROS) presence were established in the living lenses with fluorescent dyes using laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM). The extent and removal of initial LEC DNA damage were determined by comet assay. Immunohistochemistry was used to determine the presence of oxidized DNA and the response of a DNA repair protein in the lenses.
This treatment resulted in advanced cortical cataracts that developed 5–11 months post-irradiation but then appeared suddenly within a 30 day period. The initially incurred DNA strand breaks were repaired within 30 min, but DNA damage remained as shown 72 h post-irradiation by the presence of the DNA adduct, 8-hydroxyguanosine (8-OHG), and a DNA repair protein, XRCC1. This was followed months later by abnormal behavior by LEC descendant cells with abnormal differentiation and migration patterns as seen with LSCM and fluorescent dyes.
The sudden development of cortical cataracts several months post-irradiation coupled with the above findings suggests an accumulation of damaged descendants from the initially x-irradiated LECs. As these cells migrate abnormally and leave acellular lens surface sites, eventually a crisis point may arrive for lens entry of environmental O2 with resultant ROS formation that overwhelms protection by resident antioxidant enzymes and results in the coagulation of lens proteins. The events seen in this study indicate the retention and transmission of progenitor cell DNA damage in descendant LEC. The cellular and molecular events parallel those previously reported for LSCM observations in age-related cataracts.
PMCID: PMC2254966  PMID: 18334943

Results 1-10 (10)