Characterization of brown adipose tissue thermogenesis in the naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber), a heterothermic mammal

Yuki Oiwa, Kaori Oka, Hironobu Yasui, Kei Higashikawa, Hidemasa Bono, Yoshimi Kawamura, Shingo Miyawaki, Akiyuki Watarai, Takefumi Kikusui, Atsushi Shimizu, Hideyuki Okano, Yuji Kuge, Kazuhiro Kimura, Yuko Okamatsu-Ogura, Kyoko Miura

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12 Citations (Scopus)


The naked mole-rat (NMR) is a heterothermic mammal that forms eusocial colonies consisting of one reproductive female (queen), several reproductive males, and subordinates. Despite their heterothermy, NMRs possess brown adipose tissue (BAT), which generally induces thermogenesis in cold and some non-cold environments. Previous studies suggest that NMR-BAT induces thermogenesis by cold exposure. However, detailed NMR-BAT characteristics and whether NMR-BAT thermogenesis occurs in non-cold environments are unknown. Here, we show beta-3 adrenergic receptor (ADRB3)-dependent thermogenic potential of NMR-BAT, which contributes to thermogenesis in the isolated queen in non-cold environments (30 °C). NMR-BAT expressed several brown adipocyte marker genes and showed noradrenaline-dependent thermogenic activity in vitro and in vivo. Although our ADRB3 inhibition experiments revealed that NMR-BAT thermogenesis slightly delays the decrease in body temperature in a cold environment (20 °C), it was insufficient to prevent the decrease in the body temperatures. Even at 30 °C, NMRs are known to prevent the decrease of and maintain their body temperature by heat-sharing behaviors within the colony. However, isolated NMRs maintained their body temperature at the same level as when they are in the colony. Interestingly, we found that queens, but not subordinates, induce BAT thermogenesis in this condition. Our research provides novel insights into NMR thermoregulation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19488
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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