The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is an important model for studying the genetics of ageing, with over 50 life-extension mutations known so far. However, little is known about the pathobiology of ageing in this species, limiting attempts to connect genotype with senescent phenotype. Using ultrastructural analysis and visualization of specific cell types with green fluorescent protein, we examined cell integrity in different tissues as the animal ages.
A major challenge in current research into aging using model organisms is to establish whether different treatments resulting in slowed aging involve common or distinct mechanisms. Such treatments include gene mutation, dietary restriction (DR), and manipulation of reproduction, gonadal signals and temperature. The principal method used to determine whether these treatments act through common mechanisms is to compare the magnitude of the effect on aging of each treatment separately with that when two are applied simultaneously.
Dietary restriction extends lifespan in many organisms, but little is known about how it affects hematophagous arthropods. We demonstrated that diet restriction during either larval or adult stages extends Aedes aegypti lifespan. A. aegypti females fed either single or no blood meals survived 30-40% longer than those given weekly blood meals. However, mosquitoes given weekly blood meals produced far more eggs.
A commentary is offered on the chapters that comprise the section on Theoretical Foundations, emphasizing novel contributions of each. Three additional points are then made. First, while the biology of reproductive aging may be common to all human populations, its actual course can be expected to vary between individuals and between populations depending on ecological conditions and developmental histories.
Pioneering work in model organisms reveals that the reproductive system is involved not only in propagation of the species but also regulates organismal metabolism and longevity. In C. elegans, prevention of germline stem cell proliferation results in a 60% extension of lifespan, termed gonadal longevity. Gonadal longevity relies on the transcriptional activities of steroid nuclear receptor DAF-12, the FOXO transcription factor homolog DAF-16, the FOXA transcription factor homolog PHA-4, and the HNF-4-like nuclear receptor NHR-80.
Many years ago, Alex Comfort experimentally refuted Bidder's hypothesis that fish potentially were immortal. Later morphological and physiological studies, together with observations from fish populations in the wild, revealed that fish age in a way similar to that in other vertebrates. More recently, assessments of the age of fish have been revised, and have shown that some species live much longer than was estimated.
A number of leading theories of aging, namely The Antagonistic Pleiotropy Theory (Williams, 1957), The Disposable Soma Theory (Kirkwood, 1977) and most recently The Reproductive-Cell Cycle Theory (Bowen and Atwood, 2004, 2010) suggest a tradeoff between longevity and reproduction. While there has been an abundance of data linking longevity with reduced fertility in lower life forms, human data have been conflicting. We assessed this tradeoff in a cohort of genetically and socially homogenous Ashkenazi Jewish centenarians (average age ~100 years).
Aging is a developmental process occurring in all living organisms after reaching a critical developmental stage, characterized by progressive loss of functions until death. Different cells/tissues age differently depending on epigenetics and cell-cell interactions. While males maintain fertility for the most part of their life females only maintain reproductive ability for a short time compared with their lifespan. The interesting question is why and how the females lose fertility so quickly.
BioEssays: News and Reviews in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
Why do the two sexes have different lifespans and rates of aging? Two hypotheses based on asymmetric inheritance of sex chromosomes ("unguarded X") or mitochondrial genomes ("mother's curse") explain sex differences in lifespan as sex-specific maladaptation leading to increased mortality in the shorter-lived sex. While asymmetric inheritance hypotheses equate long life with high fitness, considerable empirical evidence suggests that sexes resolve the fundamental tradeoff between reproduction and survival differently resulting in sex-specific optima for lifespan.