The annual fish Nothobranchius furzeri is the shortest-lived vertebrate which can be cultured in captivity. Here, we performed a histopathological analysis of age-related lesions in this species. Post-mortem analysis revealed lesions in liver (~90%), kidney (~75%), heart (~70%) and gonads (~40%) which are similar to those previously described in the small teleost Poecilia reticulata. In addition, a high incidence of neoplasias was observed in liver (~35%) and kidney (~25%). Different laboratory strains of N. furzeri show large genetic differences in longevity. Cross-sectional analysis revealed a clear age-dependent increase in the incidence of liver neoplasias which was accelerated in a short-lived strain. Cross-sectional analysis of gonads revealed sex-specific differences in the occurrence of lesions, with males being more severely affected than females. In conclusion, our analysis demonstrates that short life span in N. furzeri is a consequence of a typical teleost aging process which determines systemic failure of homeostasis functions rather than of a single organ or apparatus. Unlike other teleosts, however, this scenario is reinforced by high incidence of age-dependent neoplasias, making this species a promising model to analyze the molecular pathways of age-dependent spontaneous tumorigenesis.
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