Home NewsAntarctica Naked mole-rats ‘never stop having babies.’ Now we know why

Naked mole-rats ‘never stop having babies.’ Now we know why

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Not solely are bare mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber) the longest-living rodents, in addition they ‘by no means cease having infants,’ based on researchers. (Picture credit score: Shutterstock)

Bare mole-rats are among the many strangest mammals on the planet. Not solely do they reside longer than every other rodent ‒ as much as 37 years ‒ they will even have infants properly into outdated age. Now, scientists suppose they’ve labored out how: The outstanding rodents’ secret is that they by no means run out of egg cells.

A brand new research, printed right now (Feb. 23) within the journal Nature Communications (opens in new tab), investigated how bare mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber) keep fertile, and the findings problem the assumption that mammals have a restricted reserve of egg cells, established earlier than or shortly after delivery, and never replenished thereafter.

“Bare mole-rats are the weirdest mammals,” lead creator Miguel Brieño-Enríquez (opens in new tab), an assistant professor at Magee-Womens Analysis Institute and the College of Pittsburgh Faculty of Drugs’s Division of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, stated in a statement (opens in new tab). “They’re the longest-lived rodent, they nearly by no means get cancer, they do not really feel ache like different mammals, they reside in underground colonies, and solely the queen can have infants. However to me, essentially the most superb factor is that they by no means cease having infants.”

These hairless, burrowing creatures don’t expertise a drop in fertility as they become older, in contrast to most different mammals. However till now, scientists had no thought how.

Associated: We expel carbon dioxide as waste. Naked mole rats bathe their brains in it to prevent seizures.

Within the research, researchers in contrast the variety of egg cells and loss of life fee of those cells in mice and bare mole-rats at totally different levels of improvement. 

Most feminine mammals, together with mice and people, are born with a finite reserve of egg cells, that are naturally depleted over time.

However the scientists discovered that this isn’t the case with bare mole-rats. It seems that bare mole-rat females are born with out egg cells and produce an exceptionally massive variety of them relative to their physique measurement as pups. In addition to lasting longer than in mice, this ovarian reserve is replenished all through the rodents’ life. The researchers noticed indicators of egg cells being produced in people as much as 10 years outdated.

“This discovering is extraordinary,” senior creator Dr. Ned Place (opens in new tab), a professor on the Cornell College Faculty of Veterinary Drugs, stated within the assertion. “It challenges the dogma that was established practically 70 years in the past, which said feminine mammals are endowed with a finite variety of eggs earlier than or shortly after delivery, with none additions being made to the ovarian reserve thereafter.”

In addition to including to the bare mole-rat’s lengthy checklist of quirks, the researchers suppose these findings might result in new therapies for people.

Bare mole-rats reside in massive colonies the place just one dominant feminine can breed. When she is displaced or dies, subordinate females compete to grow to be reproductively energetic. “Any woman can grow to be a queen,” stated Brieño-Enríquez. 

To search out out extra in regards to the transition from subordinate feminine to queen, the scientists eliminated non-breeding females from the colony. Within the absence of a queen, precursor egg cells of their ovaries began dividing — an indication of those females turning into reproductively energetic.

“That is vital as a result of if we are able to determine how they’re ready to do that, we would be capable of develop new drug targets or methods to assist human well being,” stated Brieño-Enríquez. “Although people live longer, menopause nonetheless occurs on the similar age. We hope to make use of what we’re studying from the bare mole-rat to guard ovary perform later in life and extend fertility.”


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