past projects

Hertha Firnberg Project

C57Bl 6

"Uncoupled respiration, metabolic stability and survival - an experimental test in C57BL6 mice"

Background and theme

This study, funded by the FWF is performed at the Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology in Vienna, Austria and is addressing the relationship between reproduction, oxidative stress and lifespan in C57Bl6 mice. Contrary to the common belief that high rates of energy expenditure (e.g. occurring during lactation) are compromising lifespan, recent studies have shown the opposite: animals spending a lot of energy could actually live longer. The explanation behind that finding is that oxygen free radicals might accumulate even less when creatures show uncoupled respiration in their mitochondria. During that particular state heat is produced instead of ATP- Is uncoupled respiration therefore beneficial for lifespan?

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Ames Dwarf Project

Ames dwarf

"Does membrane fatty acid composition relate to lifespan? Membrane composition in the long-lived Ames dwarf mouse"

Background and theme

Small mammals such as mice possess tissues containing more polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) while living shorter lives. These relationships have been combined in the ’membrane pacemaker hypothesis of aging’, a recent extension of the widely accepted ’oxidative stress’ hypothesis of aging. We propose to test this hypothesis in the Ames dwarf mouse, a small and particularly long-living mouse model which is deficient in growth hormone, prolactin and thyroid stimulating hormone. According to the ’membrane pacemaker hypothesis of aging’, Ames dwarf mice might have membranes low in PUFAs and especially low in the n-3 PUFA class, thereby facing lower lipid peroxidation and less oxidative damage. The proposed study aims to test whether membrane composition of the long-living ’Ames dwarf mouse’ commensurates with its body size (i.e. rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids and therefore peroxidation prone) or, alternatively, if it has a low degree of tissue polyunsaturation and thus peroxidation resistant membranes, more in keeping with its long lifespan. Along with testing a powerful mechanistic hypothesis of aging our study might emphasise the importance of membrane composition as a determinant of lifespan.

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