Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Naked mole-rats may hold clues to pain relief

Date:
September 21, 2012
Source:
University of Illinois at Chicago
Summary:
Naked mole-rats evolved to thrive in an acidic environment that other mammals, including humans, would find intolerable. Researchers report new findings as to how these rodents adapted, which may offer clues to relieving pain in other animals and humans.

Naked mole rat in the lab of Thomas Park, professor of biological sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago.
Credit: UIC Photo Services

Naked mole-rats evolved to thrive in an acidic environment that other mammals, including humans, would find intolerable. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago report new findings as to how these rodents have adapted to this environment.

Related Articles


The study was published online this week on PLOS ONE.

In the tightly crowded burrows of the African naked mole-rats' world, carbon dioxide builds up to levels that would be toxic for other mammals, and the air becomes highly acidic. These animals freely tolerate these unpleasant conditions, says Thomas Park, professor of biological sciences at UIC and principal investigator of the study -- which may offer clues to relieving pain in other animals and humans.

Much of the lingering pain of an injury, for example, is caused by acidification of the injured tissue, Park said.

"Acidification is an unavoidable side-effect of injury," he said. "Studying an animal that feels no pain from an acidified environment should lead to new ways of alleviating pain in humans."

In the nose of a mammal, specialized nerve fibers are activated by acidic fumes, stimulating the trigeminal nucleus, a collection of nerves in the brainstem, which in turn elicits physiological and behavioral responses that protect the animal -- it will secrete mucus and rub its nose, for example, and withdraw or avoid the acidic fumes.

The researchers placed naked mole-rats in a system of cages in which some areas contained air with acidic fumes. The animals were allowed to roam freely, and the time they spent in each area was tracked. Their behavior was compared to laboratory rats, mice, and a closely related mole-rat species that likes to live in comfy conditions, as experimental controls.

The naked mole-rats spent as much time exposing themselves to acidic fumes as they spent in fume-free areas, Park said. Each control species avoided the fumes.

The researchers were able to quantify the physiologic response to exposure to acidic fumes by measuring a protein, c-Fos, an indirect marker of nerve activity that is often expressed when nerve cells fire. In naked mole-rats, no such activity was found in the trigeminal nucleus when stimulated. In rats and mice, however, the trigeminal nucleus was highly activated.

The naked mole-rats' tolerance of acidic fumes is consistent with their adaptation to living underground in chronically acidic conditions, Park said.

The study was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation. Pamela LaVinka, graduate student in biological sciences at UIC, was first author on the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Illinois at Chicago. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Pamela Colleen LaVinka, Thomas J. Park. Blunted Behavioral and C Fos Responses to Acidic Fumes in the African Naked Mole-Rat. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (9): e45060 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0045060

Cite This Page:

University of Illinois at Chicago. "Naked mole-rats may hold clues to pain relief." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120921180752.htm>.
University of Illinois at Chicago. (2012, September 21). Naked mole-rats may hold clues to pain relief. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120921180752.htm
University of Illinois at Chicago. "Naked mole-rats may hold clues to pain relief." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120921180752.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins