Studies in France and the US have revealed new insights into accelerated ageing in animals.
Researchers in France at IM Projet, Caduceum, INRAE, IBDM, and Universite Claude Bernard-Lyon 1, and also involving the Instituto Serrapilheira, Brazil, found that the lifespans of both roundworms and fruit flies can be affected by how old their parents are.
The study showed that successive generations of older parent animals resulted in offspring that had significantly shorter lifespans than those with younger parents.
In addition, in roundworms, this shorter lifespan (and, in turn, a shorter period of good health) could be improved – in just one generation – if the offspring of older parents were instead bred at a younger age.
This biological deterioration, known as senescence, was observed in the younger mice in the form of impaired running times and grip strengths. Middle-aged mice that also received such a heart transplant had impaired memory, poor learning and increased anxiety-like behaviour.
However, treating the older mice before the transplantation procedure with senescence-blocking (senolytic) drugs could reduce the symptoms of senescence in the younger mice.