8 proteins keep hibernating bears in control of insulin levels

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(ORDO NEWS) — Every year, bears living in the north go into hibernation, during which it is extremely important for them to maintain stable blood sugar levels.

American scientists have been able to identify potential genetic clues to the bearish ability to control insulin levels, and in the future this may lead to effective treatment of diabetes in humans.

The behavior of wild bears is a real nightmare for people with diabetes: the animals first gain enormous weight, and then spend long months in almost complete immobility.

Yet bears, despite their “unhealthy” lifestyle, hardly suffer from diabetes. All thanks to the ability of their bodies to “turn on” and “turn off” insulin resistance.

In search of the secret to bear health, American scientists tracked thousands of changes in bear gene activity during hibernation.

The result of their observations was the narrowing of the circle of interest to eight proteins that seem to play a major role in the control of insulin.

These squirrels turned on in bears if, during a short awakening (in winter, bears do not sleep like a dead sleep, but get up and even move a little), they were offered honey water – one of their favorite delicacies.

Feeding was carried out as part of another experiment , during which they studied the energy consumption of bears during hibernation, but the collected genetic samples became invaluable material for finding the right proteins.

So far, the researchers have not been able to determine whether these proteins work individually or together to alter insulin sensitivity in sleeping animals.

Curiously, these proteins are not at all unique to bears: people have similar ones. If scientists can prove that it is these proteins that prevent bears from suffering from diabetes, their human homologues will become a prime target for further research.

8 proteins keep hibernating bears in control of insulin levels
Research was carried out on grizzly bears living at the research center at the University of Washington

Now scientists have to find out how these proteins affect the work of insulin, switching the bear’s body between “sleeping” and “active” modes, and whether a long-term transfer of the body to a certain state is possible.


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