A team of international researchers found concentrations the protein NRG-1, crucial to brain functioning, are higher in naked mole rats that live three to ten times longer than common rats.
NRG-1 is concentrated in the cerebellum, the part of the brain important to motor control, and the researchers are now trying to determine whether the rat's unusually high levels of NRG-1, a neuroprotecting protein, is behind its extraordinary longevity, LiveScience reported.
The study was conducted by a team led by Dorothee Huchon, a zoologist at Tel Aviv University; Rochelle Buffenstein, professor at the University of Texas -- San Antonio; and Yael Edrey of the City College of New York.
Future research could reveal how NRG-1 helps to maintain neuron integrity and lead to discoveries about human ageing as well, the researchers added.
Previous research has found that naked mole rats, an underground rodent native to East Africa, have more productive protein-producing machines than other creatures, and also have more efficient systems to clean up damage proteins.
The new findings are detailed in the journal Aging Cell.