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Aging and sex affect soluble alpha klotho levels in bonobos and chimpanzees

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Behringer, V., Stevens, J. M. G., Deschner, T., Sonnweber, R., & Hohmann, G. (2018). Aging and sex affect soluble alpha klotho levels in bonobos and chimpanzees. Frontiers in Zoology, 15: 35. doi:10.1186/s12983-018-0282-9.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000C-CBD1-3
Throughout life, physiological homeostasis is challenged and the capacity to cope with such challenges declines with increasing age. In many species, sex differences exist in life expectancy. Sex-specific differences have been related to extrinsic factors like mate competition and/or intrinsic proximate mechanisms such as hormonal changes. In humans, an intrinsic factor related to aging is soluble alpha klotho (α-Kl). Both sexes show an age-related decline in α-Kl, but throughout life women have higher levels than men of the same age. Sex differences in α-Kl have been linked to a shorter lifespan, as well as to specific morbidity factors such as atherosclerosis and arteries calcifications. In non-human animals, information on α-Kl levels is rare and restricted to experimental work. Our cross-sectional study is the first on α-Kl levels in two long-lived species: bonobos (Pan paniscus) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). As in most mammals, female bonobos and chimpanzees have longer life expectancy than males.
We measured serum α-Kl levels of 140 subjects from 16 zoos with an ELISA to examine if α-Kl levels reflect this difference in life expectancy.
In both species and in both sexes, α-Kl levels declined with age suggesting that this marker has potential for aging studies beyond humans. We also found species-specific differences. Adult female bonobos had higher α-Kl levels than males, a difference that corresponds to the pattern found in humans. In chimpanzees, we found the opposite: males had higher α-Kl levels than females.
We suggest that contrasting sex differences in adult α-Kl levels mirror the dominance relations between females and males of the two Pan species; and that this might be related to corresponding sex differences in their exposure to stress. In humans, higher cortisol levels were found to be related to lower α-Kl levels. We conclude that there is great potential for studying aging processes in hominoids, and perhaps also in other non-human primates, by measuring α-Kl levels. To better understand the causes for sex differences in this aging marker, consideration of behavioural parameters such as competition and stress exposure will be required as well as other physiological markers.