Lipid profile and serum characteristics of the blind subterranean mole rat, Spalax

Nicola J. Nasser, Marielle Kaplan, Eviatar Nevo, Michael Aviram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Spalax (blind subterranean mole rat), is a mammal adapted to live in fluctuating oxygen levels, and can survive severe hypoxia and hypercapnia. The adaptive evolution of Spalax to underground life resulted in structural and molecular-genetic differences comparing to above-ground mammals. These differences include higher myocardial maximal oxygen consumption, increased lung diffusion capacity, increased blood vessels density, and unique expression patterns of cancer and angiogenesis related genes such as heparanase, vascular endothelial growth factor, and P53. Methodology/Principal Findings: Here we elucidate the main characteristics of Spalax lipid profile, as well as its main antioxidant and serum parameters. Compared to human, Spalax possesses lower total-cholesterol, low density lipoproteins (LDL) and triglycerides levels, and higher levels of high density lipoproteins (HDL). Apolipoprotein A-I and apolipoprotein B-100 were significantly lower in Spalax compared to human. Paraoxonase (PON) 1 arylesterase activity, was higher in Spalax compared to both human and mouse serum levels. Analysis of serum chemistry of Spalax revealed special features in this mammal. Conclusions/Significance: Spalax possesses a unique lipid profile with high HDL and low LDL lipoproteins. The antioxidant serum content in the mole rat is higher than that of human and mouse. Serum C reactive protein (CRP) levels are significantly lower in Spalax compared to that of human or mouse, reflecting low levels of inflammation. These differences between Spalax, human and mouse are due to several factors including the intensive activity life-style that Spalax pursue underground, dietary components, and evolutionary genetic adaptations. Unfolding the genetic basis of these differences will probably result in unique treatments for a variety of human diseases such as dyslipedemias, inflammation and cancer. Copyright:

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere4528
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2
StatePublished - 20 Feb 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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