Spontaneous Disease and Pathology of Naked Mole-Rats

Martha A. Delaney, Denise M. Imai, Rochelle Buffenstein

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Naked mole-rats are highly valuable research models and popular exhibition animals at zoos worldwide. Here, we provide comprehensive descriptions of common postmortem findings of naked mole-rats from both research colonies and populations managed in zoological institutions. Included are brief reviews of their natural history and related physiologic adaptations, unique anatomical features, gross and histologic lesions of common as well as rarely reported disease processes, and discussions of possible pathogeneses with recommendations for future investigations to fill knowledge gaps. Based on postmortem data of several hundreds of naked mole-rats in managed care, it is clear that cancer is extremely rare and infectious disease is infrequently reported. However, despite relatively benign aging phenotypes in this species, several degenerative processes have been nevertheless observed in older populations of naked mole-rats. As such, some potential diet and husbandry-related issues are discussed in addition to the one of the most prominent causes of morbidity and mortality, conspecific aggression and traumas. From this review of lesions and disease, it is clear that pathology, including histopathology, is integral to better understanding mechanisms of healthy aging and cancer resistance of these extraordinary rodents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages28
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
ISSN (Print)0065-2598
ISSN (Electronic)2214-8019


  • Aging
  • Cancer
  • Cardiac disease
  • Disease
  • Kidney disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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