Cultured renal epithelial cells from birds and mice: enhanced resistance of avian cells to oxidative stress and DNA damage

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 1998 Jul;53(4):B287-92. doi: 10.1093/gerona/53a.4.b287.


Current mechanistic theories of aging would predict that many species of birds, given their unusually high metabolic rates, body temperatures, and blood sugar levels, should age more rapidly than mammals of comparable size. On the contrary, many avian species display unusually long life spans. This finding suggests that cells and tissues from some avian species may enjoy unusually robust and/or unique protective mechanisms against fundamental aging processes, including a relatively high resistance to oxidative stress. We therefore compared the sensitivities of presumptively homologous epithelial somatic cells derived from bird and mouse kidneys to various forms of oxidative stress. When compared to murine cells, we found enhanced resistance of avian cells from three species (budgerigars, starlings, canaries) to 95% oxygen, hydrogen peroxide, paraquat, and gamma-radiation. Differential resistance to 95% oxygen was demonstrated with both replicating and quiescent cultures. Hydrogen peroxide was shown to induce DNA single-strand breaks. There were fewer breaks in avian cells than in mouse cells when similarly challenged.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Birds
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA Damage*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / pharmacology
  • Kidney / cytology*
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / radiation effects
  • Longevity / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Oxygen / pharmacology
  • Paraquat / pharmacology
  • Radiation, Ionizing


  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Paraquat
  • Oxygen