Naked mole rats become plants when oxygen is low

Deprived of oxygen, naked mole rats can survive by metabolizing fructose just as plants do, researchers report. Understanding how the animals do this could lead to treatments for patients suffering crises of oxygen deprivation, as in heart attacks and strokes. In humans, laboratory mice and all other known mammals, when brain cells are starved of oxygen, they run out of energy and begin to die. But naked mole rats have a backup: Their brain cells start burning fructose, which produces energy anaerobically through a metabolic pathway that is only used by plants--or so scientists thought.

Provided by University of Illinois-Chicago

Runtime: 2:27

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