The female naked mole rats are well-known for their ability to defy cancer and ageing. They also display surprising fertility, which is unusual for a mammal. It doesn’t seem to decline over time. Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh (USA) believe they have solved the mystery of this ability. They published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
The naked mole rat, which is found in East Africa and lives in colonies, is a social animal. Like bees, these mammal are governed in the same way as bees. A queen can live over 30 years, which is quite long for a rodent. It is a long time compared to the four years that a mouse in a city can expect to live. Surprisingly, a mole-rat queen can have children all her life, while a common mouse can only give birth for four years. “Sees its fertility drop as soon a its ninth month” Writes New Scientist
Fertile as a queen
It was while studying the ovaries of females that Miguel Angel Brieño-Enríquez and his colleagues noticed an important specificity. The stock of eggs for future fertilization in mammals, including humans, is either created before birth, or very shortly after, and slowly declines. In contrast, “In mole rats, a large amount of germ cells are found (by the researchers), at all stages in life tested (by them)”. Notification New Scientist “Females have on average 1.5 million eggs by the eighth day, which is 95 times more than a mouse of the same age.” Miguel Angel Brieño-Enríquez said. Scientists believed that these females could continue to produce eggs throughout their lives.
They tested the fertility of a female worker, who should not normally be able reproduce in order to confirm their hypothesis. They separated her from her husband and put her in a cage with him for four weeks. The result? “The worker became as fertile and as beautiful as a queen” The Pittsburgh researcher reports.
It was a discovery that will be remembered forever. “Will contribute towards a better understanding about infertility among humans” These will be changed. “The way we treat menopause” Scott Sills from the California Center for Advanced Genetics comments.
Temper Aspasia Detouni, Aristotle University in Thessaloniki. “Be careful about the excitement that this type of news generates, because people might think that this discovery is a solution for menopause. The researchers have not yet found the solution.