Hibernation and aging molecular mechanisms of mammalian hypometabolism and its links to longevity
Aging is a complex phenomenon that contributes to the decline of an organism’s physiological functions, and is influenced by a number of genetic, environmental, and dietary factors. Genes and pathways that regulate aging are of particular interest, as they may provide insights into mechanisms behind the development of many age-related diseases. Model organisms like mice, flies, and worms have been extremely valuable in our current understanding of aging, but recent studies have shown that many species that hibernate are also naturally long-lived, presenting hibernators as a potential alternative model to study the biology of aging. Hibernators undergo a number of cellular changes during torpor, many of which are shown to be regulated in a similar manner to those seen in long-lived animal models. In this chapter, we describe key molecular mechanisms that are regulated during hibernation, and discuss them in the context of the relation of hibernation to the biology of aging.