Mechanisms of high-molecular-mass hyaluronan on anti-aging and cancer resistance in Heterocephalus glaber

Kaitlyn Cotton


The naked mole rat (NMR), Heterocephalus glaber, is a long-lived rodent species that is extremely resistant to anti-aging diseases (including cancer). While the exact methods of its cancer resistance remains unknown, recent research has identified high-molecular-mass hyaluronan (HMM-HA) as a contributor to H. glaber’s cancer resistance. The NMR HMM-HA differs from HA in other mammalian cells by its highly-supercoiled structure and ability to form robust macroscopic gels. It is hypothesized that HMM-HA’s unique traits help prevent the invasion of cancerous tumors into other tissues of the body. HMM-HA also prevents cancer by upregulating the p53 pathway and CD44 signaling, resulting in increased apoptosis. However, very high-molecular mass hyaluronan (vHMM-Ha) has an opposing effect of downregulation the p53 pathway and CD44 signaling, resulting in decreased apoptosis. HMM-HA is being looked into as a potential treatment for cancer, but more research into the anti-cancer mechanisms of HMM-HA and its opposing partner, vHMM-HA, is required first.

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