(ORDO NEWS) — Most primates do not hibernate, but Chinese researchers have managed to lower the body temperature of monkeys by affecting their brains. In the future, this may provide a way for humanity to make long space travel.
Hibernation is a special state in warm-blooded animals, in which all life processes in the body slow down, the metabolic rate drops sharply, and with it the need for food.
So, almost all bats hibernate with the onset of the cold season, when food insects disappear, and African hedgehogs do the same during the drought season.
For primates, hibernation is generally not characteristic: so far, this state has been recorded only in one species, the Madagascar fat-tailed lemur.
However, if nature does not meet halfway, is it possible to artificially induce hibernation in our closest relatives in order to develop similar techniques for humans in the future?
To answer this question, researchers from the Shenzhen Institute of Advanced Technology (China) infected neurons in the preoptic region of the hypothalamus (this part of the brain is responsible for thermoregulation of internal organs) of cynomolgus monkeys with a virus, which made these neurons sensitive to a special drug.
After this drug was administered, monkeys, both anesthetized and awake, had a significant decrease in body temperature, which can be considered the first step towards hibernation.
Comprehensive monitoring of physiological parameters showed that such a decrease in temperature causes cold-protective behavior in monkeys: their heart rate increases, skeletal muscle activity increases, and blood composition changes.
This distinguishes them from mice (on which similar experiments were carried out before), in which a decrease in body temperature, on the contrary, leads to a decrease in motor activity and heart rate, so the mechanism of regulation of body temperature in primates should differ from that characteristic of rodents, and achieve complete hibernation. they may be more difficult.
However, a decrease in body temperature is only the first step towards a full-fledged hibernation, so, apparently, you will have to look for a way to block the body’s cold reaction.
Nevertheless, the results of the work open up tempting prospects in medical and space research devoted to the artificial immersion of the human body into a state of cold rest. If future experiments are successful, eventually we will be able to make long space trips in cryosleep.
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