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News Article

Understanding how dogs age

Study of markers of inflammation and oxidative stress shows similarities between dogs and humans as they age

The ageing process in humans has been intensely studied, but less research has been done into how pets age.  Visibly they are older and more infirm, but the internal mechanisms are not well understood.

Part of the problem has been the challenge of tracking changes in animals over long periods of time. But now research teams from Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition, UK and Royal Canin Pet Health and Nutrition Centre, USA have published the results of a study that has followed the biochemical health of dogs over a 10 year period.

The research team monitored specific proteins in the blood and immune systems of the dogs that are known to be markers of ageing in humans. Samples were taken twice a year and analysed in the laboratory. This started when the dogs were young adults and continued to the end of their life.

The most dramatic results were for proteins associated with oxidative stress. As we age, cells become more prone to damage. The body has developed mechanisms to counteract this, but with ageing, the proteins that undertake these protective duties diminish. So any measurement of the decline in these proteins can be used as a marker of ageing.  In this study the concentration of one particular protein (HSP70), that serves to protect cells from injury, reduced by 86% from six years old to the penultimate year of life. Other findings included a rise in low level, or chronic, inflammation and change in the immune system.

“We now know that dogs suffer from low level inflammation and cellular damage through oxidative stress as they get older,” says Dr Janet Alexander, Senior Research Scientist from Waltham. “The study identified multiple possible targets for therapeutic intervention to defend against or delay the impact of ageing. The new insights also help us to provide more effective life stage support.”

Read article: Understanding How Dogs Age: Longitudinal Analysis of Markers of Inflammation, Immune Function, and Oxidative Stress by Janet E Alexander, Alison Colyer, Richard M Haydock, Michael G Hayek and JeanSoon Park, published in The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, glx182, online 6 November 2017, doi: 10.1093/gerona/glx182

Article details

  • Date
  • 01 December 2017
  • Source
  • Waltham
  • Subject(s)
  • Dogs, Cats, and other Companion Animals