Metabolic consequences of long-term rapamycin exposure on common marmoset monkeys (Callithrix jacchus).
Ross C, Salmon A, Strong R, Fernandez E, Javors M, Richardson A, Tardif S.
Aging (Albany NY). 2015 Nov;7(11):964-73. doi: 10.18632/aging.100843.


Rapamycin has been shown to extend lifespan in rodent models, but the effects on metabolic health and function have been widely debated in both clinical and translational trials. Prior to rapamycin being used as a treatment to extend both lifespan and healthspan in the human population, it is vital to assess the side effects of the treatment on metabolic pathways in animal model systems, including a closely related non-human primate model. In this study, we found that long-term treatment of marmoset monkeys with orally-administered encapsulated rapamycin resulted in no overall effects on body weight and only a small decrease in fat mass over the first few months of treatment. Rapamycin treated subjects showed no overall changes in daily activity counts, blood lipids, or significant changes in glucose metabolism including oral glucose tolerance. Adipose tissue displayed no differences in gene expression of metabolic markers following treatment, while liver tissue exhibited suppressed G6Pase activity with increased PCK and GPI activity. Overall, the marmosets revealed only minor metabolic consequences of chronic treatment with rapamycin and this adds to the growing body of literature that suggests that chronic and/or intermittent rapamycin treatment results in improved health span and metabolic functioning. The marmosets offer an interesting alternative animal model for future intervention testing and translational modeling.

p53 and rapamycin are additive.
Christy B, Demaria M, Campisi J, Huang J, Jones D, Dodds SG, Williams C, Hubbard G, Livi CB, Gao X, Weintraub S, Curiel T, Sharp ZD, Hasty P.
Oncotarget. 2015 Jun 30;6(18):15802-13. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.4602.


Mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a kinase found in a complex (mTORC1) that enables macromolecular synthesis and cell growth and is implicated in cancer etiology. The rapamycin-FK506 binding protein 12 (FKBP12) complex allosterically inhibits mTORC1. In response to stress, p53 inhibits mTORC1 through a separate pathway involving cell signaling and amino acid sensing. Thus, these different mechanisms could be additive. Here we show that p53 improved the ability of rapamycin to: 1) extend mouse life span, 2) suppress ionizing radiation (IR)-induced senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) and 3) increase the levels of amino acids and citric acid in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells. This additive effect could have implications for cancer treatment since rapamycin and p53 are anti-oncogenic.

Obesity-induced oxidative stress, accelerated functional decline with age and increased mortality in mice.
Zhang Y, Fischer KE, Soto V, Liu Y, Sosnowska D, Richardson A, Salmon AB.
Arch Biochem Biophys. 2015 Jun 15;576:39-48. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2015 Jan 3.


Obesity is a serious chronic disease that increases the risk of numerous co-morbidities including metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and cancer as well as increases risk of mortality, leading some to suggest this condition represents accelerated aging. Obesity is associated with significant increases in oxidative stress in vivo and, despite the well-explored relationship between oxidative stress and aging, the role this plays in the increased mortality of obese subjects remains an unanswered question. Here, we addressed this by undertaking a comprehensive, longitudinal study of a group of high fat-fed obese mice and assessed both their changes in oxidative stress and in their performance in physiological assays known to decline with aging. In female C57BL/6J mice fed a high-fat diet starting in adulthood, mortality was significantly increased as was oxidative damage in vivo. High fat-feeding significantly accelerated the decline in performance in several assays, including activity, gait, and rotarod. However, we also found that obesity had little effect on other markers of function and actually improved performance in grip strength, a marker of muscular function. Together, this first comprehensive assessment of longitudinal, functional changes in high fat-fed mice suggests that obesity may induce segmental acceleration of some of the aging process.

The paradoxical role of thioredoxin on oxidative stress and aging.
Cunningham GM, Roman MG, Flores LC, Hubbard GB, Salmon AB, Zhang Y, Gelfond J, Ikeno Y.
Arch Biochem Biophys. 2015 Jun 15;576:32-8. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2015 Feb 26.


In spite of intensive study, there is still controversy about the free radical or oxidative stress theory of aging, particularly in mammals. Our laboratory has conducted the first detailed studies on the role of thioredoxin (Trx) in the cytosol (Trx1) and in mitochondria (Trx2) on oxidative stress and aging using unique mouse models either overexpressing or down-regulating Trx1 or Trx2. The results generated from our lab and others indicate that: (1) oxidative stress and subsequent changes in signaling pathways could have different pathophysiological impacts at different stages of life; (2) changes in redox-sensitive signaling controlled by levels of oxidative stress and redox state could play more important roles in pathophysiology than accumulation of oxidative damage; (3) changes in oxidative stress and redox state in different cellular compartments (cytosol, mitochondria, or nucleus) could play different roles in pathophysiology during aging, and their combined effects show more impact on aging than changes in either oxidative stress or redox state alone; and (4) the roles of oxidative stress and redox state could have different pathophysiological consequences in different organs/tissues/cells or pathophysiological conditions. To critically test the role of oxidative stress on aging and investigate changes in redox-sensitive signaling pathways, further study is required.

Reduced expression of MYC increases longevity and enhances healthspan.
Hofmann JW1, Zhao X, De Cecco M, Peterson AL, Pagliaroli L, Manivannan J, Hubbard GB, Ikeno Y, Zhang Y, Feng B, Li X, Serre T, Qi W, Van Remmen H, Miller RA, Bath KG, de Cabo R, Xu H, Neretti N, Sedivy JM.
Cell. 2015 Jan 29;160(3):477-88. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2014.12.016. Epub 2015 Jan 22.


MYC is a highly pleiotropic transcription factor whose deregulation promotes cancer. In contrast, we find that Myc haploinsufficient (Myc(+/-)) mice exhibit increased lifespan. They show resistance to several age-associated pathologies, including osteoporosis, cardiac fibrosis, and immunosenescence. They also appear to be more active, with a higher metabolic rate and healthier lipid metabolism. Transcriptomic analysis reveals a gene expression signature enriched for metabolic and immune processes. The ancestral role of MYC as a regulator of ribosome biogenesis is reflected in reduced protein translation, which is inversely correlated with longevity. We also observe changes in nutrient and energy sensing pathways, including reduced serum IGF-1, increased AMPK activity, and decreased AKT, TOR, and S6K activities. In contrast to observations in other longevity models, Myc(+/-) mice do not show improvements in stress management pathways. Our findings indicate that MYC activity has a significant impact on longevity and multiple aspects of mammalian healthspan.

Identification of Ssm1b, a novel modifier of DNA methylation, and its expression during mouse embryogenesis.
Ratnam S, Engler P, Bozek G, Mao L, Podlutsky A, Austad S, Martin T, Storb U. 
Development. 2014 May;141(10):2024-34. doi: 10.1242/dev.105726.


The strain-specific modifier Ssm1 is responsible for the strain-dependent methylation of particular E. coli gpt-containing transgenic sequences. Here, we identify Ssm1 as the KRAB-zinc finger (ZF) gene 2610305D13Rik located on distal chromosome 4. Ssm1b is a member of a gene family with an unusual array of three ZFs. Ssm1 family members in C57BL/6 (B6) and DBA/2 (D2) mice have various amino acid changes in their ZF domain and in the linker between the KRAB and ZF domains. Ssm1b is expressed up to E8.5; its target transgene gains partial methylation by this stage as well. At E9.5, Ssm1b mRNA is no longer expressed but by then its target has become completely methylated. By contrast, in D2 embryos the transgene is essentially unmethylated. Methylation during B6 embryonic development depends on Dnmt3b but not Mecp2. In differentiating B6 embryonic stem cells methylation spreads from gpt to a co-integrated neo gene that has a similarly high CpG content as gpt, but neo alone is not methylated. In adult B6 mice, Ssm1b is expressed in ovaries, but in other organs only other members of the Ssm1 family are expressed. Interestingly, the transgene becomes methylated when crossed into some, but not other, wild mice that were kept outbred in the laboratory. Thus, polymorphisms for the methylation patterns seen among laboratory inbred strains are also found in a free-living population. This may imply that mice that do not have the Ssm1b gene may use another member of the Ssm1 family to control the potentially harmful expression of certain endogenous or exogenous genes.

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