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Naked mole-rats have distinctive cardiometabolic and genetic adaptations to their underground low-oxygen lifestyles.

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Gilbert, James D 
Charles, Rebecca L 


The naked mole-rat Heterocephalus glaber is a eusocial mammal exhibiting extreme longevity (37-year lifespan), extraordinary resistance to hypoxia and absence of cardiovascular disease. To identify the mechanisms behind these exceptional traits, metabolomics and RNAseq of cardiac tissue from naked mole-rats was compared to other African mole-rat genera (Cape, Cape dune, Common, Natal, Mahali, Highveld and Damaraland mole-rats) and evolutionarily divergent mammals (Hottentot golden mole and C57/BL6 mouse). We identify metabolic and genetic adaptations unique to naked mole-rats including elevated glycogen, thus enabling glycolytic ATP generation during cardiac ischemia. Elevated normoxic expression of HIF-1α is observed while downstream hypoxia responsive-genes are down-regulated, suggesting adaptation to low oxygen environments. Naked mole-rat hearts show reduced succinate levels during ischemia compared to C57/BL6 mouse and negligible tissue damage following ischemia-reperfusion injury. These evolutionary traits reflect adaptation to a unique hypoxic and eusocial lifestyle that collectively may contribute to their longevity and health span.


Funder: School Of Biological and Behavioural Sciences, QMUL


Animals, Mice, Oxygen, Longevity, Hypoxia, Mole Rats, Ischemia

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Nat Commun

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Wellcome Trust (220257/Z/20/Z)
MRC (MC_UU_00014/5)