When comparative aging studies began in the eighties of the last century, it was a frequently quoted question whether insects are appropriate as model systems for aging studies. In the meantime insects cannot be dismissed as experimental animals for gaining insight in aging mechanisms in general. It was already addressed that the underlying chemical and cytological processes through which aging becomes visible are shared throughout the animal kingdom and, in part, even by plants.
In the last decade, several attempts have been made to unravel the similarities and differences from yeast to man that exist in signal transduction mechanisms, in particular those of the insulin/IGF-signalling pathway. According to Rincon et al. (2004), the disruption of the insulin/IGF-1 receptor in nematodes and flies increases life span significantly. Mammals with genetic defects in the insulin signalling pathway, however, are at risk for increased mortality. Indeed, even these contradictory results and the paradox of the insulin/IGF-1 signalling pathway in longevity were recognized only after careful examinations of invertebrate models, including flies.
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