Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Naked mole-rats bear chili pepper heat

29.01.2008
Pity the tiny naked mole-rat. The buck-toothed, sausage-like rodent lives by the hundreds in packed, oxygen-starved burrows some six feet under ground. It is even cold-blooded -- which, as far as we know, is unique among mammals.

You can feel their pain. But, they can't feel ours.

Evolution has benefited naked mole-rats by ridding them of a body chemical called Substance P, a neurotransmitter released by pain fibers that send signals to the central nervous system in mammals after making contact with things that cause long-lasting, achy pain.

A better understanding of how Substance P works in the strange rodents may lead to new analgesic drugs for people with chronic pain who do not respond well to current medication, according to Thomas Park, associate professor of biological sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and Gary Lewin of the Max-Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin, principal authors of a study appearing Jan. 29 in the free-access journal PLoS Biology.

... more about:
»Capsaicin »Substance »acid »naked »respond »rodent

Park, Lewin and their laboratory teams in Chicago and Berlin used a modified herpes cold sore virus to carry genes for Substance P to the rodents' nerve fibers.

"We were able to rescue their ability to feel pain," said Park. His research group restored Substance P and the naked mole-rats' ability to sense the burning sensation other mammals feel when subjected to capsaicin, the active ingredient in chili peppers.

The restored sensitivity was limited to just one rear foot of each tested rodent. "They'd pull their foot back and lick it," in response to the stimulus, said Park. Other feet were impervious to the sting of capsaicin.

"Capsaicin is very specific for exciting the fibers that normally have Substance P," said Park. "They're not the fibers that respond to a pin prick or pinch, but the ones that respond after an injury or burn and produce longer-lasting pain."

But the researchers found that mole-rats remained completely insensitive to acids, indicating a fundamental difference in how their nerves respond to this stimulus.

"Acid acts on the capsaicin receptor and on another family of receptors called acid-sensitive ion channels," Park said. "Acid is not as specific as capsaicin. The mole-rat is the only animal that shows completely no response to acid."

Park said the research adds to knowledge about the neurotransmitter Substance P.

"This is important specifically to the long-term, secondary-order inflammatory pain. It's the pain that can last for hours or days when you pull a muscle or have a surgical procedure," he said.

Park said naked mole-rats provide a new model system that is different from all other animals he has studied.

"We're learning which nerve fibers are important for which kinds of pain, so we'll be able to develop new strategies and targets."

Naked mole-rats, native to east-central Africa, developed a protective reaction to acids through evolution. Living in tight underground quarters, the mole-rats exhale high levels of carbon dioxide, which becomes acid when it touches skin and mucous tissue in the nose, eyes and mouth. But the mole-rats have evolved to become desensitized to the stinging pain of acid.

The UIC biologist plans to study other animals, both closely related and unrelated -- such as Alaskan marmots that burrow in high CO2 environments -- to examine how they have evolved similar strategies to cope with acid-rich living conditions.

Paul Francuch | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uic.edu

Further reports about: Capsaicin Substance acid naked respond rodent

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs
16.01.2017 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

nachricht Cholera bacteria infect more effectively with a simple twist of shape
13.01.2017 | Princeton University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

Im Focus: Newly proposed reference datasets improve weather satellite data quality

UMD, NOAA collaboration demonstrates suitability of in-orbit datasets for weather satellite calibration

"Traffic and weather, together on the hour!" blasts your local radio station, while your smartphone knows the weather halfway across the world. A network of...

Im Focus: Repairing defects in fiber-reinforced plastics more efficiently

Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are frequently used in the aeronautic and automobile industry. However, the repair of workpieces made of these composite materials is often less profitable than exchanging the part. In order to increase the lifetime of FRP parts and to make them more eco-efficient, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) and the Apodius GmbH want to combine a new measuring device for fiber layer orientation with an innovative laser-based repair process.

Defects in FRP pieces may be production or operation-related. Whether or not repair is cost-effective depends on the geometry of the defective area, the tools...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Solar Collectors from Ultra-High Performance Concrete Combine Energy Efficiency and Aesthetics

16.01.2017 | Trade Fair News

3D scans for the automotive industry

16.01.2017 | Automotive Engineering

Nanoparticle Exposure Can Awaken Dormant Viruses in the Lungs

16.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>