Four Cases of Spontaneous Neoplasia in the Naked Mole-Rat (Heterocephalus glaber), A Putative Cancer-Resistant Species

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2017 Jan;72(1):38-43. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glw047. Epub 2016 Apr 29.


The naked mole-rat (Heterocephalus glaber) is widely acclaimed to be cancer-resistant and of considerable research interest based on a paucity of reports of neoplasia in this species. We have, however, encountered four spontaneous cases of neoplasia and one presumptive case of neoplasia through routine necropsy and biopsy of individuals in a zoo collection of nonhybrid naked mole-rats bred from a single pair. One case each of metastasizing hepatocellular carcinoma, nephroblastoma (Wilms' tumor), and multicentric lymphosarcoma, as well as presumptive esophageal adenocarcinoma (Barrett's esophagus-like) was identified postmortem among 37 nonautolyzed necropsy submissions of naked mole-rats over 1-year-old that were submitted for necropsy between 1998 and August 2015. One incidental case of cutaneous hemangioma was also identified antemortem by skin biopsy from one naked mole-rat examined for trauma.

Keywords: Heterocephalus glaber; Barrett’s esophagus; Blastemal predominant; Cancer-resistance; Naked mole-rat; Neoplasia; Nephroblastoma; Wilms’ tumor.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Hemangioma / pathology*
  • Kidney Neoplasms / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / pathology*
  • Mole Rats
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Wilms Tumor / pathology*