Naked mole-rats are highly social and strictly subterranean rodents that live in large communal colonies in sealed and chronically oxygen-depleted burrows. Brain slices from naked mole-rats show extreme tolerance to hypoxia compared to slices from other mammals, as indicated by maintenance of synaptic transmission under more hypoxic conditions and three fold longer latency to anoxic depolarization. A key factor in determining whether or not the cellular response to hypoxia is reversible or leads to cell death may be the elevation of intracellular calcium concentration. In the present study, we used fluorescent imaging techniques to measure relative intracellular calcium changes in CA1 pyramidal cells of hippocampal slices during hypoxia. We found that calcium accumulation during hypoxia was significantly and substantially attenuated in slices from naked mole-rats compared to slices from laboratory mice. This was the case for both neonatal (postnatal day 6) and older (postnatal day 20) age groups. Furthermore, while both species demonstrated more calcium accumulation at older ages, the older naked mole-rats showed a smaller calcium accumulation response than even the younger mice. A blunted intracellular calcium response to hypoxia may contribute to the extreme hypoxia tolerance of naked mole-rat neurons. The results are discussed in terms of a general hypothesis that a very prolonged or arrested developmental process may allow adult naked mole-rat brain to retain the hypoxia tolerance normally only seen in neonatal mammals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)