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
Ames dwarf (Prop1df, df/df) mice lack growth hormone (GH), prolactin, and thyrotropin and live remarkably longer than their normal siblings. Significance of reduced activity of the somatotropic and thyroid axes during development and adulthood on longevity are unknown. Because enhanced insulin sensitivity and reduced insulin levels are among likely mechanisms responsible for increased longevity in these mutants, we compared the effects of GH and thyroxine (T4) replacement on various parameters related to insulin signaling in young and old male df/df mice. The results suggest that altered plasma adiponectin and insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) and hepatic IGF-1, insulin receptor (IR), IR substrate-1, peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor (PPAR) γ, and PPARγ coactivator-1 α may contribute to increased insulin sensitivity in Ames dwarfs. The stimulatory effect of GH and T4 treatment on plasma insulin and inhibitory effect on expression of hepatic glucose transporter-2 were greater in old than in young dwarfs. These results indicate that GH and T4 treatment has differential impact on insulin signaling during development and adulthood.
Ames dwarf; Aging; Insulin; Growth hormone
The growth hormone (GH) receptor knockout (GHRKO) mice are highly insulin sensitive and long-lived. Surgical visceral fat removal (VFR) improves insulin signaling in normal mice and rats and extends longevity in rats. We have previously demonstrated decreased expression of certain pro-apoptotic genes in kidneys of GHRKO mice, and suggested that this may contribute to the increased longevity of these animals. The aim of the present study was to examine the level of the following proteins: caspase-3, caspase-9, caspase-8, bax, bad, phospho-bad (p-bad), bcl-2, Smac/DIABLO, Apaf-1, phospho-p53 (pp53) and cytochrome c (cyc) in male GHRKO and normal (N) mice subjected to VFR or sham surgery, at approximately 6 months of age. The kidneys were collected 2 months after VFR. Results: Caspase-3, caspase-8, bax, bad, Smac/DIABLO, Apaf-1 and pp53 levels were decreased in GHRKO mice as compared to N animals. VFR did not change the level of any of the examined proteins. Conclusion: Decreased renal levels of pro-apoptotic proteins may contribute to extended lifespan due to targeted disruption of GH receptor (Ghr) gene but are apparently not involved in mediating the effects of VFR.
apoptosis; caspases; GHRKO mice; kidney; proteins; visceral fat removal
The long-lived growth hormone (GH) receptor knockout (GHRKO; KO) mice are GH resistant due to targeted disruption of the GH receptor (Ghr) gene. Apoptosis is a physiological process in which cells play an active role in their own death and is a normal component of the development and health of multicellular organisms. Aging is associated with the progressive loss of strength of skeletal and heart muscles. Calorie restriction (CR) is a well known experimental model to delay aging and increase lifespan. The aim of the study was to examine the expression of the following apoptosis-related genes: caspase-3, caspase-9, caspase-8, bax, bcl-2, Smac/DIABLO, p53 and cytochrome c1 (cyc1) in the skeletal muscles and hearts of female normal and GHRKO mice, fed ad libitum or subjected to 40% CR for 6 months, starting at 2 months of age. Moreover, skeletal muscle caspase-3, caspase-9, caspase-8, bax, bcl-2, Smac/DIABLO, Apaf-1, bad, phospho-bad (pbad), phospho-p53 (pp53) and cytochrome c (cyc) protein expression levels were assessed.
Expression of caspase-3, caspase-9, bax and Smac/DIABLO genes and proteins was decreased in GHRKO’s skeletal muscles. The Apaf-1 protein expression also was diminished in this tissue. In contrast, bcl-2 and pbad protein levels were increased in skeletal muscles in knockouts. No changes were demonstrated for the examined genes expression in GHRKO’s hearts except for the increased level of cyc1 mRNA. CR did not alter the expression of the examined genes and proteins in skeletal muscles of knockouts vs. normal (N) mice. In heart homogenates, CR increased caspase-3 mRNA level as compared to ad libitum (AL) mice.
decreased expression of certain pro-apoptotic genes and/or proteins may constitute the potential mechanism of prolonged longevity in GHRKO mice, protecting these animals from aging; this potential beneficial mechanism is not affected by calorie restriction.
The disruption of the growth hormone (GH) axis in mice promotes insulin sensitivity and is strongly correlated with extended longevity. Ames dwarf (Prop1df, df/df) mice are GH, prolactin (PRL), and thyrotropin (TSH) deficient and live approximately 50% longer than their normal siblings. To investigate the effects of GH on insulin and GH signaling pathways, we subjected these dwarf mice to twice-daily GH injections (6 μg/g/d) starting at the age of 2 weeks and continuing for 6 weeks. This produced the expected activation of the GH signaling pathway and stimulated somatic growth of the Ames dwarf mice. However, concomitantly with increased growth and increased production of insulinlike growth factor-1, the GH treatment strongly inhibited the insulin signaling pathway by decreasing insulin sensitivity of the dwarf mice. This suggests that improving growth of these animals may negatively affect both their healthspan and longevity by causing insulin resistance.
Ames dwarf; Aging; Insulin; Growth hormone
The growth hormone (GH) receptor knockout mice (GHRKO) are remarkably long-lived and highly insulin sensitive. Alterations in mitochondrial biogenesis are associated with aging and various metabolic derangements. We have previously demonstrated increased gene expression of key regulators of mitochondriogenesis in kidneys, hearts and skeletal muscles of GHRKO mice. The aim of the present study was to quantify the protein levels of the following regulators of mitochondriogenesis: peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ co-activator 1α (PGC-1α), AMP-activated protein kinase α (AMPKα), phospho-AMPKα (p-AMPKα), sirtuin-3 (SIRT-3), endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), phospho-eNOS (p-eNOS), nuclear respiratory factor-1 (NRF-1) and mitofusin-2 (MFN-2) in skeletal muscles and kidneys of GHRKOs in comparison to normal mice. We were also interested in the effects of calorie restriction (CR) and visceral fat removal (VFR) on these parameters. Both CR and VFR improve insulin sensitivity and can extend lifespan. Results: The renal levels of PGC-1α, AMPKα, p-AMPKα, SIRT-3, eNOS, p-eNOS and MFN-2 were increased in GHRKOs. In the GHRKO skeletal muscles, only MFN-2 was increased. Levels of the examined proteins were not affected by CR (except for PGC-1α and p-eNOS in skeletal muscles) or VFR. Conclusion: GHRKO mice have increased renal protein levels of key regulators of mitochondriogenesis and this may contribute to increased longevity of these knockouts.
mitochondrial biogenesis; GHRKO mice; skeletal muscles; kidneys; proteins; calorie restriction; visceral fat
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
Aging is associated with a decline of immune competence and an increase in markers of inflammation. There is considerable evidence that inflammatory processes play a role in aging and the determination of lifespan. Hypopituitary Ames dwarf mice have extended longevity and exhibit many symptoms of delayed aging, although various aspects of immune function are suppressed in the mutants. In the present study, the expression of genes related to immunity and inflammation was compared in peripheral blood leukocytes (PBL) from Ames dwarf and normal mice using Affymetrix Gene Chip arrays. Among the more than 3000 probe sets that were differentially expressed, 273 were identified as being associated with immunity and/or inflammation. Pathway analysis revealed interactions among 91 of these probe sets, centered on casp3, bcl2, il4, prkca, mapk14, and TGFβ1. Ames dwarf mice had reduced leukocyte expression of casp3 and TGFβ and increased expression of Bcl2. Alterations in the expression of these genes suggest likely functional changes in apoptosis, B and T cell homeostasis, prostaglandin synthesis, humoral immunity, chemokine activity, complement activation, hemostasis and wound healing pathways. Collectively, these results suggest that activation of both anti-inflammatory pathways and an anti-clotting mechanism combined with reduced turnover of leukocytes may contribute to delayed aging and extended longevity of Ames dwarf mice. We are also aware that alterations in gene expression in PBLs can be due to different composition of PBL populations when comparing Ames dwarf to WT animals, and it will be interesting to investigate these genes in particular PBL populations in the future. However, whole leucocytes population represents the function of immune system in these organisms.
Ames dwarf; aging; PBL; inflammation
Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs) are members of the nuclear receptors superfamily. The three subtypes, PPARα, PPARγ, and PPARβ/δ, are expressed in multiple organs. These transcription factors regulate different physiological
functions such as energy metabolism (including lipid and carbohydrate metabolism), insulin action, and immunity and inflammation, and apparently also act as important mediators of longevity and aging. Calorie restriction (CR) is the most effective intervention known to delay aging and increase lifespan.
Calorie restriction affects the same physiological functions as PPARs. This review summarizes recent
findings on the effects of CR and aging on the expression of PPARγ, α, and β/δ in mice and discusses possible involvement of PPARs in mediating the effects of murine longevity genes. The levels of PPARs change with age and CR appears to prevent these alterations which make “PPARs-CR-AGING” dependence of considerable interest.
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
Mice with targeted deletion of the growth hormone receptor (GHRKO mice) are GH resistant, small, obese, hypoinsulinemic, highly insulin sensitive and remarkably long-lived. To elucidate the unexpected coexistence of adiposity with improved insulin sensitivity and extended longevity, we examined effects of surgical removal of visceral (epididymal and perinephric) fat on metabolic traits related to insulin signaling and longevity. Comparison of results obtained in GHRKO mice and in normal animals from the same strain revealed disparate effects of visceral fat removal (VFR) on insulin and glucose tolerance, adiponectin levels, accumulation of ectopic fat, phosphorylation of insulin signaling intermediates, body temperature and respiratory quotient (RQ). Overall, VFR produced the expected improvements in insulin sensitivity and reduced body temperature and RQ in normal mice and had opposite effects in GHRKO mice. Some of the examined parameters were altered by VFR in opposite directions in GHRKO and normal mice, others were affected in only one genotype or exhibited significant genotype × treatment interactions. Functional differences between visceral fat of GHRKO and normal mice were confirmed by measurements of adipokine secretion, lipolysis and expression of genes related to fat metabolism. We conclude that in the absence of GH signaling the secretory activity of visceral fat is profoundly altered and unexpectedly promotes enhanced insulin sensitivity. The apparent beneficial effects of visceral fat in GHRKO mice may also explain why reducing adiposity by calorie restriction fails to improve insulin signaling or further extend longevity in these animals.
GHRKO; insulin; adipose tissue
Mitochondrial biogenesis is essential for cell viability. Growth hormone receptor knockout (GHRKO), calorie restriction, and surgical visceral fat removal constitute experimental interventions to delay aging and increase life span. We examined the expression of known regulators of mitochondriogenesis: peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ co-activator 1α (PGC-1α), adenosine monophosphate (AMP)–activated protein kinase (AMPK), sirtuin-1 (SIRT-1) and sirtuin-3 (SIRT-3), endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS), nuclear respiratory factor-1, mitochondrial transcription factor A (TFAM), and mitofusin-2 (MFN-2) in the skeletal muscles and hearts of control and calorie-restricted female GHRKO mice and in the kidneys of male GHRKOs after visceral fat removal or sham surgery. Expression of PGC-1α in skeletal muscles, AMPK, SIRT-1, SIRT-3, eNOS, and MFN-2 in the heart and PGC-1α, AMPK, SIRT-3, eNOS, and MFN-2 in kidneys was increased in GHRKO mice but was not affected by calorie restriction or visceral fat removal. GHRKO mice have increased expression of key regulators of mitochondriogenesis, which is not improved further by calorie restriction or visceral fat removal.
GHRKO mice; Mitochondrial biogenesis; Gene expression; Calorie restriction; Visceral fat removal
Many investigations in recent years have targeted understanding the genetic and biochemical basis of aging. Collectively, genetic factors and biological mechanisms appear to influence longevity in general and specifically; reduction of the insulin/IGF-1 signaling cascade has extended life span in diverse species. Genetic alteration of mammals for life extension indicates correlation to serum IGF-1 levels in mice, and IGF-1 levels have been demonstrated as a physiological predictor of frailty with aging in man. Longevity and aging data in the dog offer a close measure of the natural multifactorial longevity interactions of genetic influence, IGF-1 signaling, and environmental factors such as exposure, exercise, and lifestyle. The absence of genetic alteration more closely represents the human longevity status, and the unique species structure of the canine facilitates analyses not possible in other species. These investigations aimed to measure serum IGF-1 in numerous purebred and mixed-breed dogs of variable size and longevity in comparison to age, gender, and spay/neuter differences. The primary objective of this investigation was to determine plasma IGF-1 levels in the adult dog, including a wide range of breeds and adult body weight. The sample set includes animals ranging from just a few months of age through 204 months and ranging in size from 5 to 160 lb. Four groups were evaluated for serum IGF-1 levels, including intact and neutered males, and intact and spayed females. IGF-1 loss over time, as a function of age, decreases in all groups with significant differences between males and females. The relationship between IGF-1 and weight differs depending upon spay/neuter status, but there is an overall increase in IGF-1 levels with increasing weight. The data, currently being interrogated further for delineation of IGF-1 receptor variants and sex differences, are being collected longitudinally and explored for longevity associations previously unavailable in non-genetically modified mammals.
Longevity; IGF-1; Canine; Aging; Insulin signaling
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
Increase in life span in RasGrf1-deficient mice revealed that RasGrf1 deficiency promotes longevity. Interestingly, RasGrf1 is one of parentally imprinted genes transcribed from paternally-derived chromosome. Erasure of its imprinting results in RasGrf1 downregulation and has been demonstrated in a population of pluripotent adult tissues-derived very small embryonic like stem cells (VSELs), stem cells involved in tissue organ rejuvenation. Furthermore, based on recent observation that RasGrf1 signaling molecule is located downstream from insulin (Ins) and insulin like growth factor-1 (Igf-1) receptors, the extended life-span of RasGrf1−/− mice may support beneficial effect of reduced Ins/Igf-1 signaling on longevity. Similarly, downregulation of RasGrf1 in VSELs renders them resistant to chronic Ins/Igf-1 signaling and protects from premature depletion from adult tissues. Thus, the studies in RasGrf1−/− mice indicate that some of the imprinted genes may play a role in ontogenetic longevity and suggest that there are sex differences in life span that originate at the genome level. All this in toto supports a concept that the sperm genome may have a detrimental effect on longevity in mammals. We will discuss a role of RasGrf1 on life span in context of genomic imprinting and VSELs.
Aging; longevity; IGF-1; RasGrf1; VSEL
Mice lacking the pregnancy-associated plasma protein A (PappA) gene exhibit diminished localized IGF-1 bioavailability and a 30% increase in mean life span. However, it is uncertain which tissues exhibit reduced IGF-1 signals in the PappA(−/−) mouse, and whether effects of this mutation parallel those of mutations that diminish IGF-1 in serum. Across a panel of 21 tissues, we used RT-PCR to evaluate the effects of the PappA(−/−) mutation on expression of Igfbp5, which served as an in vivo indicator of IGF-1 signaling. Among these tissues, expression of Igfbp5 was significantly reduced by PappA(−/−) only in kidney. A broader survey of IGF-associated genes in six organs identified five other genes responsive to PappA(−/−) in kidney, with stronger effects in this organ relative to other tissues. Renal expression of Irs1 and Mt1 was increased by PappA(−/−) as well as by mutations that reduce IGF-1 in serum (i.e., Ghr(−/−), Pit1(dw/dw) and Prop1(df/df)), and we demonstrate that expression of these genes is regulated by growth hormone-treatment and calorie restriction. These results provide in vivo data on an important new model of mammalian aging, and characterize both similar and contrasting expression patterns between long-lived mice with reduced local IGF-1 availability and diminished IGF-1 in serum.
aging; dwarf; growth hormone; insulin-like growth factor; lifespan; longevity
Blockade of growth hormone (GH), decreased insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF1) action and increased insulin sensitivity are associated with life extension and an apparent slowing of the aging process. We examined expression of genes involved in insulin action, IR, IRS1, IRS2, IGF1, IGF1R, GLUT4, PPARs and RXRs in the hearts of normal and GHR−/− (KO) mice fed ad libitum or subjected to 30% caloric restriction (CR). CR increased the cardiac expression of IR, IRS1, IGF1, IGF1R and GLUT4 in normal mice and IRS1, GLUT4, PPARα and PPARβ/δ in GHR-KO animals. Expression of IR, IRS1, IRS2, IGF1, GLUT4, PPARγ and PPARα did not differ between GHR-KO and normal mice. These unexpected results suggest that CR may lead to major modifications of insulin action in the heart, but high insulin sensitivity of GHR-KO mice is not associated with alterations in the levels of most of the examined molecules related to intracellular insulin signaling.
Caloric restriction; aging; GHR-KO; insulin; fatty acid
Mice homozygous for the targeted disruption of the growth hormone (GH) receptor (Ghr) gene (GH receptor knockout; GHRKO; KO) are hypoinsulinemic, highly insulin sensitive, normoglycemic, and long-lived. Visceral fat removal (VFR) is a surgical intervention which improves insulin signaling in normal (N) mice and rats and extends longevity in rats. We have previously demonstrated decreased expression level of certain pro-apoptotic genes in skeletal muscles and suggested that this may contribute to the regulation of longevity in GHRKO mice. Alterations in apoptosis-related genes expression in the kidneys also may potentially lead to lifespan extension. In this context, we decided to examine the renal expression of the following genes: caspase-3, caspase-9, caspase-8, bax, bad, bcl-2, Smac/DIABLO, Apaf-1, p53, and cytochrome c1 (cyc1) in male GHRKO and N mice subjected to VFR or sham surgery, at approximately 6 months of age. The kidneys were collected 2 months after VFR. As a result, caspase-3, caspase-9, and bax expressions were decreased in KO mice as compared to N animals. Expressions of Smac/DIABLO, caspase-8, bcl-2, bad, and p53 did not differ between KOs and N mice. VFR did not change the expression of the examined genes in KO or N mice. In conclusion, endocrine abnormalities in GHRKO mice result in decreased expression of pro-apoptotic genes and VFR did not alter the examined genes expression in N and KO mice. These data are consistent with a model in which alterations of GH signaling and/or insulin sensitivity lead to increased lifespan mediated by decreased renal expression of pro-apoptotic genes.
Apoptosis; GHRKO mice; Kidney; Gene expression; Caspases; Visceral fat removal
The Ames dwarf mouse is well known for its remarkable propensity to delay the onset of aging. Although significant advances have been made demonstrating that this aging phenotype results primarily from an endocrine imbalance, the posttranscriptional regulation of gene expression and its impact on longevity remains to be explored. Towards this end, we present the first comprehensive study by microRNA microarray screening to identify dwarf-specific lead microRNAs, and investigate their roles as pivotal molecular regulators directing the long-lived phenotype. Mapping the signature microRNAs to the inversely expressed putative target genes, followed by in situ immunohistochemical staining and in vitro correlation assays, reveal that dwarf mice posttranscriptionally regulate key proteins of intermediate metabolism, most importantly the biosynthetic pathway involving ornithine decarboxylase and spermidine synthase. Functional assays using 3′UTR reporter constructs in co-transfection experiments confirm that microRNA-27a indeed suppresses the expression of both of these proteins, marking them as probable targets of this microRNA in vivo. Moreover, the putative repressed action of this microRNA on ornithine decarboxylase is identified in dwarf mouse liver as early as two months of age. Taken together, our results show that among the altered aspects of intermediate metabolism detected in the dwarf mouse liver — glutathione metabolism, the urea cycle, and polyamine biosynthesis — microRNA-27a is a key posttranscriptional control. Furthermore, compared to its normal siblings, the dwarf mouse exhibits a head start in regulating these pathways to control their normality, which may ultimately contribute to its extended healthspan and longevity.
MicroRNA; Aging; dwarf mouse; intermediate metabolism
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.
Growth hormone receptor knockout (GHRKO) mice live about 40%–55% longer than their normal (N) littermates. Previous studies of 21-month-old GHRKO and N mice showed major alterations of the hepatic expression of genes involved in insulin signaling. Differences detected at this age may have been caused by the knockout of the growth hormone receptor (GHR) or by differences in biological age between GHRKO and N mice. To address this question, we compared GHRKO and N mice at ages corresponding to the same percentage of median life span to see if the differences of gene expression persisted. Comparison of GHRKO and N mice at ∼50% of biological life span showed significant differences in hepatic expression of all 14 analyzed genes. We conclude that these changes are due to disruption of GHR gene and the consequent suppression of growth hormone signaling rather than to differences in “biological age” between mutant and normal animals sampled at the same chronological age.
Aging; GHRKO; Insulin
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.
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.