"Naked mole rats are the strangest mammals," said Pittsburgh School of Medicine scientist Brieño-Enríquez Miguel Brieño-Enríquez, according to a university statement. "They live the longest of all rodents, almost never get cancer, don't feel pain like other mammals, live in underground colonies, and only the queen can have children. But to me the most amazing thing is that they never stop having children - they don't have a decrease in fertility as they get older. We want to understand how they do it.”
These results have now been published in the journal "Nature Communications". Naked mole rats are rodents up to 15 centimeters long with barely visible hair that live mainly in East Africa and can live for around 30 years.
Together with his colleagues, Brieño-Enríquez compared the ovaries of the animals at different life stages with those of mice and found indications of three possible reasons for the lifelong fertility of the naked mole rat: Female naked mole rats had significantly more oocytes than female mice, while those in significantly fewer rates die off. For example, the researchers found 1.5 million egg cells in an eight-day-old female naked mole rat - 95 percent more than in a female mouse of the same age, even though the ovaries of the two animals are comparable in size.
In addition, evidence was found that female naked mole rats formed new eggs over the course of their lives, it said. Although only the respective queen of a colony reproduces, all other female naked mole rats are theoretically able to assume this position at any time.
"This discovery is extraordinary," said Ned Place of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, who also participated in the study. "It scratches the dogma established around 70 years ago, according to which female mammals are equipped with a finite number of egg cells around their birth, without more being added afterwards." human ovaries and fertility - or to develop drugs to support them.
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