Naked Mole Rat Offers Clue to Long Life
Naked mole rats live about 10 times longer than other similar-sized mammals. This pregnant naked mole rat (above) is 15 years old.
Credit: Rochelle Buffenstein/City College of New York.

Naked mole rats live three to ten times longer than common rats, and several studies have shown the subterranean creatures might hold clues to longer life in humans. A new study finds a protein that could offer some longevity clues.

Genetic analysis of naked mole rats finds concentrations the protein NRG-1, crucial to brain functioning, are higher in naked mole rats than in several other rodent species and remain high throughout their lifetimes. NRG-1 is concentrated in the cerebellum, the part of the brain important to motor control, the researchers explained in a statement.

Future research could reveal how NRG-1 helps to maintain neuron integrity and lead to discoveries about human aging as well, say the researchers, Dorothee Huchon of Tel Aviv University, Rochelle Buffenstein of the University of Texas and Yael Edrey of the City College of New York.

The findings, announced today, are detailed in the journal Aging Cell.

Previous research has found that naked mole rats have more productive protein-producing machines than other creatures, and also have more efficient systems to clean up damage proteins.