Cholesterol-rich naked mole-rat brain lipid membranes are susceptible to amyloid beta-induced damage in vitro.


Naked mole-rats are extraordinarily long-lived rodents that offer unique opportunities to study the molecular origins of age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Remarkably, they do not accumulate amyloid plaques, even though their brains contain high concentrations of amyloid beta (Aβ) peptide from a young age. Therefore, they represent a particularly favourable organism to study the mechanisms of resistance against Aβ neurotoxicity. Here we examine the composition, phase behaviour, and Aβ interactions of naked mole-rat brain lipids. Relative to mouse, naked mole-rat brain lipids are rich in cholesterol and contain sphingomyelin in lower amounts and of shorter chain lengths. Proteins associated with the metabolism of ceramides, sphingomyelins and sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 were also found to be decreased in naked mole-rat brain lysates. Correspondingly, we find that naked mole-rat brain lipid membranes exhibit a high degree of phase separation, with the liquid ordered phase extending to 80% of the supported lipid bilayer. These observations are consistent with the 'membrane pacemaker' hypothesis of ageing, according to which long-living species have lipid membranes particularly resistant to oxidative damage. We also found that exposure to Aβ disrupts naked mole-rat brain lipid membranes significantly, breaking the membrane into pieces while mouse brain derived lipids remain largely intact upon Aβ exposure.