Aging is one of the greatest mysteries in biology, and arguably one of our great challenges. Old age is the main risk factor for many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Rather than facing each malady separately, extending the youthful part of life could significantly delay, if not eliminate, many of these diseases altogether. Further, extended youthfulness could contribute to our quality of life. Yet, aging regulation, notably in vertebrate systems, is still poorly understood. This is because aging is an extraordinarily complex process that defies many conventional rules in biology.
Laying hens are unique in that they have been bred for extreme potency – laying an (unfertilized) egg a day all year long. This potency makes them an outstanding study animal to teach us new lessons about the general process of aging and fertility.
Hens are also important to our nutrition, where the value of egg products is about US$250 billion annually, and the demand for chicken eggs is still rising. Therefore, increasing the persistency of lay benefits our nutrition, economy, and the environment.
Our lab uses the laying hen as a model to study aging and fertility in vertebrates. We also apply computational methods to analyze publicly available data from human and mouse. On the experimental front, we combine molecular assays, such as untargeted metabolomics, with physiological readouts to study how different dietary schemes affect health and the youthful part of life. We also study the importance of sleep on health and fertility.
Bendikov-Bar I, Malitsky S, Itkin M, Ruzal M, and Sagi D. Metabolomic Changes are Predictive of Aging in Laying Hens (2021). The Journals of Gerontology: Series A. 76 (10): 1757–1768 (2021)
Sagi D, Rak R, Gingold H, Adir I, Maayan G, Dahan O, Pilpel Y, Rechavi O (2016). Tissue- and time-specific expression of otherwise identical tRNA genes. Plos Genetics 12(8):e1006264
Sagi, D. and Kim, S.K. (2012) An engineering approach to extending lifespan in C. elegans. Plos Genetics 8(6):e1002780