Two University of Illinois at Chicago researchers report in the Dec. 9 issue of NeuroReport (now on-line) that adult naked mole rat brain tissue can withstand extreme hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation, for periods exceeding a half-hour -- much longer than brain tissue from other mammals.
The findings may yield clues for better treatment of brain injuries associated with heart attack, stroke and accidents where the brain is starved of vital oxygen.
John Larson, associate professor of physiology in psychiatry, and Thomas Park, professor of biological sciences, studied African naked mole rats -- small rodents that live about six feet underground in big colonies of up to 300 members. The living is tight and the breathing even worse, with the limited air supply high in carbon dioxide and low in oxygen.
The air they breathe is so foul it would be fatal or lead to irreversible brain damage in any other mammal, Larson and Park said.
But naked mole rats studied were found to show systemic hypoxia adaptations, such as in the lungs and blood, as well as neuron adaptations that allow brain cells to function at oxygen and carbon dioxide levels that other mammals cannot tolerate.
"In the most extreme cases, naked mole rat neurons maintain function more than six times longer than mouse neurons after the onset of oxygen deprivation," said Larson.
"We also find it very intriguing that naked mole rat neurons exhibit some electrophysiological properties that suggest that neurons in these animals retain immature characteristics."
All mammal fetuses live in a low-oxygen environment in the womb, and human infants continue to show brain resistance to oxygen deprivation for a brief time into early childhood. But naked mole rats, unlike other mammals, retain this ability into adulthood.
"We believe that the extreme resistance to oxygen deprivation is a result of evolutionary adaptations for surviving in a chronically low-oxygen environment," said Park.
"The trick now will be to learn how naked mole rats have been able to retain infant-like brain protection from low oxygen, so we can use this information to help people who experience temporary loss of oxygen to the brain in situations like heart attacks, stroke or drowning," he said.
Larson said study of the naked mole rat's brain may yield clues for learning the mechanisms that allow longer neuronal survival after such accidents or medical emergencies, which may suggest ways to avoid permanent human brain damage.
Paul Francuch | EurekAlert!
Immune Defense Without Collateral Damage
23.01.2017 | Universität Basel
The interactome of infected neural cells reveals new therapeutic targets for Zika
23.01.2017 | D'Or Institute for Research and Education
For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.
According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine
23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.01.2017 | Process Engineering