Scandinavian brown bear hibernation as a biological model for tissue protection, regeneration and repair in human medicine

This researcher network investigates how a detailed understanding of the hibernation of the Scandinavian brown bear can contribute to the development of a variety of medical strategies to improve human health.

Sedentary lifestyle, with no or little physical activity, and long-term hospital immobilisation are associated with vascular thrombosis, heart failure, metabolic syndrome, and osteoporosis. New strategies to deal with these problems would be of immense benefit for individuals as well as society at large. This project focuses on biological features which protect some hibernating animals in comparable situations.

Scandinavian brown bears stay inside their winter dens for 5-7 months, and during this sleeping period they do not eat, drink, defecate, urinate, or perform any physical activity. Despite this, brown bears do not suffer from wasted muscle tissue (atrophy), blood clotting diseases (coagulopathies), bedsore (decubitus ulcer), osteoporosis or deteriorated heart function - hardships which affect humans in similar situation.

Unlike most other hibernating animals, the brown bear sustains a body temperature (31-35°C) close to normal during winter sleep. It has therefore been speculated that bears have unique temperature-independent strategies protecting them.

Blood and fat are obtained from wild brown bears during winter hibernation and from the same animals during non-hibernation in summer. Since research on hibernating wild brown bears has not been done before, this study will generate unique biological material to the benefit of different scientific areas beside medicine.

This network aims to strengthen the collaboration on four major areas:

  1. research training and exchange in the Nordic area
  2. building of a research database
  3. meeting infrastructure
  4. preparation for EU grant applications

This project is performed in collaboration with the Scandinavian Brown Bear Research Project and several Nordic university departments.

Scientific Publications

Data source: Crossref. The list should not be assumed to represent the complete published research output of the project.

Hydrogen sulfide and nitric oxide metabolites in the blood of free-ranging brown bears and their potential roles in hibernation

Journal Article published 2014-08-01 in Free Radical Biology and Medicine volume 73
Research funded by National Institutes of Health | NordForsk | Lundbeckfonden | Danish Council for Independent Research, Natural Sciences
Authors: Inge G. Revsbech, Xinggui Shen, Ritu Chakravarti, Frank B. Jensen, Bonnie Thiel, Alina L. Evans, Jonas Kindberg, Ole Fröbert, Dennis J. Stuehr, Christopher G. Kevil, Angela Fago.
Facts about the project

Project number: 44042

Project leader

Ole Fröbert, Örebro University Hospital, Sweden