“Samoan Fruit-Eating Bat,” John Cassin, The United States Exploring Expedition 1838–1842: Mammology and Ornithology Monograph, J. P. Lippincott and Co., 1858. (Cover of July FASEB Journal) I know the title seems like it's right out of one of those hokey ads from a vitamin company, but what I'm about to share are the results of a real scientific finding by a group of researchers in San Antonio, Texas -- one reported in the July issue of the Journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. (FASEB Journal).
Bat lifespans are particularly long relative to their size, with some bats living up to 32 years. Asish Chaudhuri, Professor of Biochemistry at the VA Medical Center in San Antonio and his colleagues wanted to learn more about why the bat aged so slowly, so they sought more details about the biochemistry of two species of particularly long-lived bats: the Tadarida brasiliensis and the Myotis velifer.
They looked specifically at the protein cells that commonly deteriorate with age. Here is a little background information:
The image to the right shows how protein cells fold, a process that is
central to its proper functioning. Amino acids help to form the
3-dimensional structure and, if an appropriate structure is not
achieved, the proteins will develop other properties that may be
toxic. Age related diseases, particularly neurodegenerative diseases,
are believed to result from the accumulation of incorrectly folded
As the bat is structurally very similar to a mouse, the researchers compared liver proteins taken from the two species of bat with liver proteins from mice, after the proteins had been treated with certain chemicals known to cause protein misfolding. What the scientists found was that the protein cells of the of the bats were less damaged after exposure to the chemicals than the mouse protein cells, leading them to conclude that bats have a better mechanism for maintaining their biochemical structures in reaction to stress.
The conclusion, as worded in the abstract of the journal article: "The long lifespan of two bat species is correlated with resistance to protein oxidation and enhanced protein homeostasis."
"Ultimately we are trying to discover what underlying mechanisms allow
for some animal species to live a very long time with the hope that we
might be able to develop therapies that allow people to age more
slowly," Professor Chaudhuri told R&D Daily. (Would you please hurry?)
R&D Daily, Wikipedia, FASEB Journal
Keeping you posted...