Research Paper Volume 14, Issue 9 pp 3728—3756

Single-cell transcriptomics reveals age-resistant maintenance of cell identities, stem cell compartments and differentiation trajectories in long-lived naked mole-rats skin

Aleksandra Savina1, , Thierry Jaffredo2, , Frederic Saldmann3, , Chris G. Faulkes4, , Philippe Moguelet5, , Christine Leroy6, , Delphine Del Marmol7, , Patrice Codogno6, , Lucy Foucher8, , Antoine Zalc1, , Mélanie Viltard3, , Gérard Friedlander6, , Selim Aractingi1,9, *, , Romain H. Fontaine1, *, ,

  • 1 Université Paris Cité, CNRS, INSERM, Institut Cochin, Paris, France
  • 2 Institut de Biologie Paris Seine (IBPS), Laboratoire de Biologie du Développement, Sorbonne Université, CNRS, INSERM, Paris, France
  • 3 Fondation pour la Recherche en Physiologie, Brussels, Belgium
  • 4 Queen Mary University of London, School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, London, United Kingdom
  • 5 Service d'Anatomie et Cytologie Pathologiques, Hôpital Tenon, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, Paris, France
  • 6 Université Paris Cité, CNRS, INSERM, Institut Necker-Enfants Malades, Paris, France
  • 7 Université de Namur ASBL, Namur, Belgium
  • 8 Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire d'Alfort, Centre de Recherche Biomédicale, Maisons-Alfort, France
  • 9 Service de Dermatologie, Hôpital Cochin, Assistance Publique-Hôpitaux de Paris, France
* Senior co-author

Received: December 1, 2021       Accepted: April 25, 2022       Published: May 4, 2022
How to Cite

Copyright: © 2022 Savina et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


Naked mole-rats (NMR) are subterranean rodents characterized by an unusual longevity coupled with an unexplained resistance to aging. In the present study, we performed extensive in situ analysis and single-cell RNA-sequencing comparing young and older animals. At variance with other species, NMR exhibited a striking stability of skin compartments and cell types, which remained stable over time without aging-associated changes. Remarkably, the number of stem cells was constant throughout aging. We found three classical cellular states defining a unique keratinocyte differentiation trajectory that were not altered after pseudo-temporal reconstruction. Epidermal gene expression did not change with aging either. Langerhans cell clusters were conserved, and only a higher basal stem cell expression of Igfbp3 was found in aged animals. In accordance, NMR skin healing closure was similar in young and older animals. Altogether, these results indicate that NMR skin is characterized by peculiar genetic and cellular features, different from those previously demonstrated for mice and humans. The remarkable stability of the aging NMR skin transcriptome likely reflects unaltered homeostasis and resilience.


NMR: Naked mole-rats; scRNA-seq: RNA-sequencing; Krt: Keratin; Lor: Loricrin; Y: Young; MA: Middle-aged; UMAP: Uniform Manifold Approximation and Projection; t-SNE: t-distributed Stochastic Neighbor Embedding; BSC: basal and stem cells; BPSC: basal proliferating and stem cells; Sp: spinous layer cells; Gr: granular layer cells; Cor: corneous layer cells.