High oxidative damage levels in the longest-living rodent, the naked mole-rat

Aging Cell. 2006 Dec;5(6):463-71. doi: 10.1111/j.1474-9726.2006.00237.x. Epub 2006 Oct 27.


Oxidative stress is reputed to be a significant contributor to the aging process and a key factor affecting species longevity. The tremendous natural variation in maximum species lifespan may be due to interspecific differences in reactive oxygen species generation, antioxidant defenses and/or levels of accrued oxidative damage to cellular macromolecules (such as DNA, lipids and proteins). The present study tests if the exceptional longevity of the longest living (> 28.3 years) rodent species known, the naked mole-rat (NMR, Heterocephalus glaber), is associated with attenuated levels of oxidative stress. We compare antioxidant defenses (reduced glutathione, GSH), redox status (GSH/GSSG), as well as lipid (malondialdehyde and isoprostanes), DNA (8-OHdG), and protein (carbonyls) oxidation levels in urine and various tissues from both mole-rats and similar-sized mice. Significantly lower GSH and GSH/GSSG in mole-rats indicate poorer antioxidant capacity and a surprisingly more pro-oxidative cellular environment, manifested by 10-fold higher levels of in vivo lipid peroxidation. Furthermore, mole-rats exhibit greater levels of accrued oxidative damage to lipids (twofold), DNA (approximately two to eight times) and proteins (1.5 to 2-fold) than physiologically age-matched mice, and equal to that of same-aged mice. Given that NMRs live an order of magnitude longer than predicted based on their body size, our findings strongly suggest that mechanisms other than attenuated oxidative stress explain the impressive longevity of this species.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aging / genetics*
  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Body Size / physiology
  • Cellular Senescence / physiology*
  • Chimera
  • DNA Damage / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Lipid Peroxidation / physiology
  • Longevity / genetics*
  • Malondialdehyde / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mole Rats / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Protein Carbonylation / physiology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Malondialdehyde
  • Glutathione