A new study has revealed that a difference in the structure of the nerve channels of naked mole rats could explain the hairless rodent’s unparalleled ability to withstand pain.
The naked mole rat’s resistance to pain has baffled researchers for many years. Although the rodent lacks fur, it resides in the scorching deserts of East Africa – seemingly oblivious to the heat.
A study published in the journal Cell has finally solved this mystery. The study, by Damir Omer and colleagues from the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, revealed that although the naked mole rat has fully functional TrpV1 channels, they are not triggered by nociceptive stimuli. The researchers concluded that the naked mole rat derived its resistance to pain through genetic evolution. The researchers claim that these unique molecular changes in the naked mole rat’s nerve channels are at the root for its ability to withstand pain.