About this Research Topic
Octodon degus is a primarily diurnal precocial, slowly maturing, long-lived rodent, native from South America.
Although researcher interest on degus started more than forty years ago, with time, its living style and physiology have aroused interest in several scientific fields including chronobiology, behavioral and aging neuroscience, reproduction, endocrinology, parasitology, cancer research etc.
Over the last decade, degus started to be considered as an appropriate animal model for several physiopathological conditions analogous to the ones found in humans, i.e. affective and somatic disorders, Alzheimer disease (AD), diabetes and circadian disruption. Interestingly, the onset of cerebral pathomorphological changes characteristic of AD appears to be delayed in the laboratory compared to the wild-type degus. Having in mind that wild degus are often infected by pathogens as Herpes-like viruses and Trypanosoma (risk factors for neurodegenerative processes and cognitive deficits) and exposed to stressful situations, a pioneer study in 2011 hypothesized that this could be one of the reasons for those animals develop AD pathology earlier than animals bred in laboratory conditions.
Nevertheless, the existence of AD pathology in this species is still under debate. In this sense, some advance in exploration of this hypothesis was already made by different research groups. Another specificity of this species is the ability to switch from diurnal to nocturnal activity under laboratory conditions such as in response to wheel-running availability, ambient temperature, restricted food access or conspecific odors. Octodon degus has also been shown to be an ideal model to study socio-emotional behaviors, including vocal communication, filial attachment and the importance of paternal care on the development of the brain and the behavior of the offspring.
The purpose of this Research Topic is to bring to the scientific audience new advances in an already established field of research in Octodon degus. We will welcome interdisciplinary studies, possible comparative researches between wild and laboratory breeding animals, as well as new potential interests for translational medicine. Papers focusing on the Octodon degus cognition, behavior, specific anatomy, physiological functions (reproduction, metabolism, circadian rhythm) or common diseases (aging and age-related diseases and zoonosis) will help to better understand this species and in particular as an animal model.
Keywords: Octodon Degus, Behavior, reproduction, metabolism, circadian rhythm, wild versus laboratory breeding animals
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