Prolonged longevity in naked mole-rats: age-related changes in metabolism, body composition and gastrointestinal function

Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2002 Nov;133(3):835-42. doi: 10.1016/s1095-6433(02)00198-8.


Aging is characterized by declines in all physiological processes and concomitant changes in body composition. Age-related changes in metabolism, body composition and gastrointestinal function were investigated in naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber), rodents that exhibit extended longevity. Maximum lifespan of these 40 g rodents (>27 year) is approximately 9 times greater than predicted allometrically. We investigated changes in basal metabolic rate (BMR), body composition and intestinal glucose transport in 1, 5, 10 and 20-year-old male individuals. Body composition was measured using dual X-ray absorptiometry and activity of sodium glucose co-transporters (SGLT1) determined using everted gut sleeves. One-year-olds had lower body mass than other age cohorts, as they had not attained full adult form. Among the 5, 10, and 20-year-olds, no age-related changes in body mass, BMR, percentage body fat, fat-free mass or bone mineral density were found. SGLT1 activity declined moderately (<20%) from 5 to 20 years and was similar at 10-20 years, whereas age-related declines are 40-60% in mice. Although mole-rats have low metabolic rates, their prolonged longevity results in a lifetime energy expenditure more than 4 times that of mice. Since lifetime energy expenditure is an important index of potential exposure to oxidative damage, naked mole-rats may be valuable for studying mechanisms of aging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Basal Metabolism / physiology*
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Gastric Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Intestinal Absorption / physiology
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism*
  • Longevity / physiology*
  • Male
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / metabolism
  • Mole Rats / metabolism*
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins / metabolism
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 1


  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Monosaccharide Transport Proteins
  • Sodium-Glucose Transporter 1
  • Glucose