Monday, 23 September 2019

Grizzlies show remarkable gene control before and during hibernation

SEPTEMBER 18, 2019

by Charlie Powell, Washington State University

Being a human couch potato can greatly increase fat accumulation, hasten the onset of Type II diabetes symptoms, result in detrimental blood chemistry and cardiovascular changes, and eventually, bring about one's death.

Large hibernators such as bears however have evolved to adapt to and reverse similar metabolic stressors they face each year before and during hibernation to essentially become immune to these ill effects.

New RNA sequencing-based genetic research conducted at Washington State University's Bear Research, Education, and Conservation Center shows grizzlies express a larger number of genes in preparation for, and during hibernation to cope with such stressors, than do any other species studied.

The king-of-the-gene switching superlative even holds true when one corrects for the different sample sizes used in other hibernation studies.

The work was conducted in Pullman, Washington, home of the only university-based captive grizzly bear population in the world. It was published Sept. 13, in Communications Biology, a Springer Nature publication. The WSU scientists biopsied muscle, liver, and fat tissues for the study.

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