TitleMuscle senescence in short-lived wild mammals, the soricine shrews Blarina brevicauda and Sorex palustris
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsHindle, AJ, Lawler, JM, Campbell, KL, Horning, M
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology. Part A, Ecological Genetics and Physiology
Date Published2009 Jun 1
AbstractRed-toothed (soricine) shrews are consummate predators exhibiting the highest energy turnovers and shortest life spans (ca. 18 months) of any mammal, yet virtually nothing is known regarding their physiological aging. We assessed the emerging pattern of skeletal muscle senescence (contractile/connective tissue components) in sympatric species, the semi-aquatic water shrew (WS), Sorex palustris, and the terrestrial short-tailed shrew (STS), Blarina brevicauda, to determine if muscle aging occurs in wild, short-lived mammals (H(0): shrews do not survive to an age where senescence occurs), and if so, whether these alterations are species-specific. Gracilis muscles were collected from first-year (n=17) and second-year (n=17) field-caught shrews. Consistent with typical mammalian aging, collagen content (% area) increased with age in both species (S. palustris: approximately 50%; B. brevicauda: approximately 60%). Muscle was dominated by stiffer Type I collagen, and the ratio of collagen Type I:Type III more than doubled with age. The area ratio of muscle:collagen decreased with age in both species, but was considerably lower in adult STS, suggesting species-specificity of senescence. Extracellular space was age-elevated in B. brevicauda, but was preserved in S. palustris ( approximately 50 vs. 10% elevation). Though juvenile interspecific comparisons revealed no significance, adult WS myocytes had 68% larger cross-sectional area and occurred at 28% lower fibers/area than those of adult STS. We demonstrate that age-related muscle senescence does occur in wild-caught, short-lived mammals, and we therefore reject this classic aging theory tenet. Our findings moreover illustrate that differential age adjustments in contractile/connective tissue components of muscle occur in the two species of wild-caught shrews.