Retinal ganglion cell survival and axon regeneration after optic nerve injury in naked mole-rats

Kevin K. Park, Xueting Luo, Skyler J. Mooney, Benjamin J. Yungher, Stephane Belin, Chen Wang, Melissa M. Holmes, Zhigang He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


In the adult mammalian central nervous system (CNS), axonal damage often triggers neuronal cell death and glial activation, with very limited spontaneous axon regeneration. In this study, we performed optic nerve injury in adult naked mole-rats, the longest living rodent, with a maximum life span exceeding 30 years, and found that injury responses in this species are quite distinct from those in other mammalian species. In contrast to what is seen in other mammals, the majority of injured retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) survive with relatively high spontaneous axon regeneration. Furthermore, injured RGCs display activated signal transducer and activator of transcription-3 (STAT3), whereas astrocytes in the optic nerve robustly occupy and fill the lesion area days after injury. These neuron-intrinsic and -extrinsic injury responses are reminiscent of those in “cold-blooded” animals, such as fish and amphibians, suggesting that the naked mole-rat is a powerful model for exploring the mechanisms of neuronal injury responses and axon regeneration in mammals. J. Comp. Neurol. 525:380–388, 2017.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-388
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • RRID:AB_10063408
  • RRID:AB_10694681
  • RRID:AB_143165
  • RRID:AB_143165
  • RRID:AB_2532994
  • RRID:AB_2534074
  • RRID:AB_2535855
  • RRID:AB_561305
  • axon growth. RRID:IMSR_JAX:000664
  • axon injury
  • axon regeneration
  • naked mole-rat
  • retinal ganglion cell


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