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Extreme hypoxia tolerance of naked mole-rat brain

Larson, Johna b; Park, Thomas J.b c

doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e32833370cf

Mammalian brains have extremely high levels of aerobic metabolism and typically suffer irreversible damage after brief periods of oxygen deprivation such as occur during stroke or cardiac arrest. Here we report that brain tissue from naked mole-rats, rodents that live in a chronically low-oxygen environment, is remarkably resistant to hypoxia: naked mole-rat neurons maintain synaptic transmission much longer than mouse neurons and can recover from periods of anoxia exceeding 30 min. We suggest that brain tolerance to hypoxia may result from slowed or arrested brain development in these extremely long-lived animals.

Departments of aPsychiatry, Psychiatric Institute

bBiological Sciences

cLaboratory of Integrative Neuroscience, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Correspondence to Dr John Larson, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Psychiatric Institute (M/C 912), University of Illinois, 1601 W. Taylor Street, Chicago, IL 60612, USA

Tel: +1 312 413 4572; fax: +1 312 413 4569; e-mail:

Received 27 August 2009 accepted 23 September 2009

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.