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Insect queens’ longer life associated with lower markers of oxidative damage
January 16 2017. A study of termites adds more evidence to the free radical theory of aging submitted by Denham Harman, MD, in the 1950s. Researchers in Japan have uncovered a correlation between the longer lifespan of termite queens and a decrease in oxidative damage in comparison with shorter-lived worker and soldier insects. While long life is usually accompanied by the trade-off of diminished fertility, the opposite is true for termite queens that produce most or all of the offspring in a colony. The study was reported on January 11, 2017 in PLOS ONE.
Eisuke Tasaki of Tottori and Yamaguchi Universities and colleagues measured markers of oxidative damage in DNA, proteins and lipids, as well as the expression of antioxidant enzyme genes in queen and worker termites. They found significantly lower levels of the marker of DNA oxidative damage 8-hydroxy-2’-deoxyguanosine following ultraviolet (UV) irradiation exposure in queens compared to worker termites. Protein carbonyls, which are biomarkers of oxidative damage to protein, and levels of malondialdehyde, a marker of lipid peroxidation, were significantly lower in queens than workers in normal conditions as well as after UV irradiation.
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