Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2014 Mar 1;306(5):H730-7. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00831.2013. Epub 2013 Dec 20.

Cardiac function of the naked mole-rat: ecophysiological responses to working underground.

Author information

Department of Physiology and the Sam and Ann Barshop Institute for Aging and Longevity Studies, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas;


The naked mole-rat (NMR) is a strictly subterranean rodent with a low resting metabolic rate. Nevertheless, it can greatly increase its metabolic activity to meet the high energetic demands associated with digging through compacted soils in its xeric natural habitat where food is patchily distributed. We hypothesized that the NMR heart would naturally have low basal function and exhibit a large cardiac reserve, thereby mirroring the species' low basal metabolism and large metabolic scope. Echocardiography showed that young (2-4 yr old) healthy NMRs have low fractional shortening (28 ± 2%), ejection fraction (43 ± 2%), and cardiac output (6.5 ± 0.4 ml/min), indicating low basal cardiac function. Histology revealed large NMR cardiomyocyte cross-sectional area (216 ± 10 μm(2)) and cardiac collagen deposition of 2.2 ± 0.4%. Neither of these histomorphometric traits was considered pathological, since biaxial tensile testing showed no increase in passive ventricular stiffness. NMR cardiomyocyte fibers showed a low degree of rotation, contributing to the observed low NMR cardiac contractility. Interestingly, when the exercise mimetic dobutamine (3 μg/g ip) was administered, NMRs showed pronounced increases in fractional shortening, ejection fraction, cardiac output, and stroke volume, indicating an increased cardiac reserve. The relatively low basal cardiac function and enhanced cardiac reserve of NMRs are likely to be ecophysiological adaptations to life in an energetically taxing environment.


cardiac reserve; echocardiography; ecophysiology; left ventricular function; naked mole-rat

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center