Document Detail

Factors influencing metabolic rate in naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber).
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  10357434     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
Naked mole-rats (Heterocephalus glaber) are fossorial, eusocial mammals that live in colonies averaging about 70 individuals. Metabolic regulation is of particular interest in this species because it is one of only two naturally occurring small mammals that are hairless. Further, relative to other small mammals, naked mole-rats exhibit low body temperature (Tb) and weak capacity to maintain Tb above the ambient temperature (Ta). The present study examined effects of Ta, norepinephrine (NE), and chronic food restriction on O2 consumption (as a measure of metabolism) in naked mole-rats. Studies were performed in both awake and anesthetized animals. Metabolic rate decreased with increasing T. over the range of 23-34 degrees C in awake mole-rats, whereas in anesthetized animals rates of O2 consumption were very low over this entire range of Ta and tended to increase with increasing Ta. Injections of NE led to rapid increases in metabolic rate at all Tas in anesthetized subjects and also at Ta = 34 degrees C in awake mole-rats. However, at Tas of 29 and 23 degrees C, awake subjects given NE showed little stimulation of O2 consumption beyond the already elevated baseline rates observed at these Tas. During chronic restriction of food to 60-70% of their normal daily consumption mole-rats exhibited decreased rates of metabolism; metabolic rate was not altered following several hours of acute food deprivation. Food consumption remained somewhat decreased after a period of chronic food restriction, even when animals were returned to ad lib conditions. However, body weights returned to prerestriction values, despite the continued reduction in ad lib food intake. These observations suggest that mole-rats may be capable of long-lasting metabolic adaptations as a means to cope with restricted food supply. These findings are discussed in relation to adaptation of this fossorial species to a habitat where food has a patchy distribution. Naked mole-rats, with their several unusual thermoregulatory and behavioral features, provide an intriguing model for studies of mammalian metabolic regulation.
B D Goldman; S L Goldman; T Lanz; A Magaurin; A Maurice
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Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.    
Journal Detail:
Title:  Physiology & behavior     Volume:  66     ISSN:  0031-9384     ISO Abbreviation:  Physiol. Behav.     Publication Date:  1999 May 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  1999-07-22     Completed Date:  1999-07-22     Revised Date:  2008-11-21    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  0151504     Medline TA:  Physiol Behav     Country:  UNITED STATES    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  447-59     Citation Subset:  IM    
Department of Physiology and Neurobiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs 06279, USA.
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MeSH Terms
Adaptation, Physiological
Anesthesia / adverse effects
Body Temperature / drug effects,  physiology
Body Temperature Regulation / drug effects,  physiology*
Cold Temperature / adverse effects*
Food Deprivation / physiology*
Hair / physiology
Hot Temperature / adverse effects
Mole Rats / physiology*
Norepinephrine / pharmacology*
Oxygen Consumption / drug effects,  physiology
Sympathomimetics / pharmacology*
Wakefulness / physiology
Grant Support
Reg. No./Substance:
0/Sympathomimetics; 51-41-2/Norepinephrine

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