It looks just like the naked mole rat, as its name suggests. Naked and a cross between a mole and a rat. And while she’s not exactly a fashion icon, we can still learn a lot from this animal. For example, an animal can tolerate pain well, rarely has cancer, and has recently played a leading role in research into hypoxia: a condition in which tissues in the body are not supplied with sufficient oxygen.
The naked mole rat copes well in situations of low oxygen, and the animal can reduce energy consumption at rest by 85 percent to save energy. Researchers have now discovered more about the mechanism the animal uses to do this. They turn to expand a specific protein in their brown adipose tissue, so that they can respond to hypoxia within an hour. They turn off the heating very quickly, so to speak. The mechanism was mainly seen in mole rats living in colonies, indicating a social aspect to the mechanism.
Since hypoxia also occurs in humans — it can play a role in heart attack, among other things, but has also been seen acutely in people with coronavirus infection — the researchers hope that this finding will eventually help us as well.