Fast living killifish reverse muscle wasting. Could we?

Photo credit: Avnika Ruparelia

Life’s tough for African killifish. They only live for three to four months. They suffer from the same diseases of old-aging that we do – cancer, short telomeres, and wasting muscles. But in their old age the muscle wasting slows and may even reverse. Could that happen to people as well? Avnika Ruparelia is unraveling the mysteries of vertebrate aging at Australia’s only killifish research facility.

The secrets of ‘late-life’

African killifish eggs can wait years for water. When the rains come, the eggs hatch, but the fish only have a record-breaking three-month short life. Within a few months, the fish suffer from the same diseases of ageing that we do – cancer, reduced regenerative capacity, short telomeres and wasting muscles.

Then, the muscle wasting slows and may even reverse. Could that happen in people as well?

Avnika Ruparelia from ARMI and The University of Melbourne runs the only killifish research facility in Australia, working with these amazing fish to unravel some of the mysteries of vertebrate ageing.

“African killifish are beautiful – ranked among the top “world’s most gorgeous fish” list,” she says. Avnika.

Photo credit: Avnika Ruparelia

“And they have a unique life history: In addition to having an extremely short lifespan (which is great for ageing studies), their larval stages are quite unique as well. During the dry season, the eggs deposited in the mud undergo developmental arrest and they can stay there for months, if not years,” Avnika says.

“Once it starts raining (or you expose them to water), they resume development and then hatch, grow rapidly and then start to age. So essentially, they have these two stages: the egg stage which can undergo developmental arrest, which could give clues to anti-ageing mechanisms, and the adult stages, whereby ageing occurs rapidly,” she says.

Photo credit: Avnika Ruparelia

Avnika had a paper in May –

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