Background: The naked mole-rat (NMR) is the longest-lived rodent with a maximum lifespan of more than 37 years and shows a negligible senescence phenotype, suggesting that tissue stem cells of NMRs are highly capable of maintaining homeostasis. However, the properties of NMR tissue stem cells, including neural stem cells (NSCs), are largely unclear. Methods: Neural stem/progenitor cells (NS/PCs) were isolated from the subventricular zone of the neonate NMR brain (NMR-NS/PCs) and cultured in neurosphere and adherent culture conditions. Expression of NSC markers and markers of neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes was analyzed by immunocytochemistry. In adherent culture conditions, the proliferation rate and cell cycle of NMR-NS/PCs were assessed and compared with those of NS/PCs from mice (mouse-NS/PCs). The DNA damage response to γ-irradiation was analyzed by immunocytochemistry and reverse transcription-quantitative PCR. Results: NMR-NS/PCs expressed several NSC markers and differentiated into neurons, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes. NMR-NS/PCs proliferated markedly slower than mouse-NS/PCs, and a higher percentage of NMR-NS/PCs than mouse-NS/PCs was in G0/G1 phase. Notably, upon γ-irradiation, NMR-NS/PCs exhibited a faster initiation of the DNA damage response and were less prone to dying than mouse-NS/PCs. Conclusions: NMR-NS/PCs were successfully isolated and cultured. The slow proliferation of NMR-NS/PCs and their resistance to DNA damage may help to prevent stem cell exhaustion in the brain during the long lifespan of NMRs. Our findings provide novel insights into the mechanism underlying delayed aging of NMRs. Further analysis of NMR tissue stem cells may lead to the development of new strategies that can prevent aging in humans.
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