Subterranean mole-rats naturally have an impoverished calciol status, yet synthesize calciol metabolites and calbindins

R. Buffenstein, J. U.M. Jarvis, J. A. Opperman, M. Cavaleros, F. P. Ross, J. M. Pettifor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Mole-rats (Family Bathyergidae) have no obvious source of calciol. They live in an environment devoid of sunlight and consume a herbivorous diet. Calciol status, metabolism and expression were examined in six species of Bathyergids. Serum levels of calcidiol in all species were < 5 μg/l and those of calcitriol were low (18.0 ± 11.0 (SD) ng/l, N = 57) when compared to other rodents. Within 72 h of injecting animals with tritium-labelled calciol, most of the labelled prohormone had been metabolized to more polar metabolites. Three times more tritium-labelled calcitriol (19.3 ± 2.9%) was present than (24R)-hydroxycalcidiol (6.2 ± 10%). The natural absence of detectable circulating concentrations of calcidiol and the threefold greater amount of calcitriol to (24R)-hydroxycalcidiol produced indicate that calciol naturally is in short supply. Calciol-dependent calbindins were absent in the duodenum. Calbindin-D(28k) was present in the Purkinje cells of the cerebellum and in some collecting ducts and proximal and distal convoluted tubules of the kidney. Calbindin-D(9k) also was present but was localized uniquely in the juxtaglomerular cells of the five southern African species. These data confirm that Bathyergid mole-rats naturally have an impoverished calciol status. Despite the presence of calbindins in renal tissues, the functional importance of this hormone in calbindin synthesis and other normal mole-rat physiology is not known.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)402-409
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Endocrinology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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