Life-extending ovariectomy in grasshoppers increases somatic storage, but dietary restriction with an equivalent feeding rate does not

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Reduced diet or reduced reproduction each extends lifespan in many animals. It is often thought that reduced reproduction and reduced diet may act through the same mechanisms. In grasshoppers, ovariectomy extends lifespan and reduces feeding to a level similar to that used for life extension by dietary restriction, further suggesting mechanistic overlap. Here, we measure the feeding rate of ovariectomized grasshoppers and, by manipulating feeding levels, create a sham-operated & dietary restricted group with matched daily feeding. Both groups show ˜25% increased survivorship near the median age of mortality for fully fed and reproductive controls. Ovariectomy results in a doubling of fat body mass and hemolymph volume in comparison to both a feeding-matched dietary restriction group and a sham-operated & fully fed control, which do not differ from each other. Total anti-oxidant activity in the hemolymph and the skeletal muscle was unchanged upon ovariectomy or dietary restriction, so it does not appear to be a major factor in lifespan extension. Next, we measured mitochondrial counts using qPCR to determine mitochondrial cytochrome-b concentrations relative to nuclear (genomic) beta-actin. Mitochondrial counts in the ovariectomized group were lower than sham-operated and fully fed controls but not than the dietary restriction group. Last, in the fat body, transcript levels of hexamerin-90 (a hemolymph storage protein) were affected by neither ovariectomy nor dietary restriction. Hence, ovariectomy resulted in large magnitude increases in organismal storage. The matched-fed dietary restricted group differed from the ovariectomized group only in organismal storage, and not in any of the cellular parameters measured here. This study suggests that longevity via ovariectomy has distinct physiological mechanisms from longevity via dietary restriction in grasshoppers that are independent of daily feeding rate, particularly for protein and fat storage.

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