Hibernating bears have a secret superpower lurking in their blood

(ORDO NEWS) — There is something curious in the blood of black bears that allows them to hibernate for seven months of the year, while remaining fit and healthy.

Scientists aren’t sure what it is, but a new study has helped get closer to unraveling the mystery.

If we humans tried to hibernate for as long as a black bear, our muscles would begin to wear out from lack of physical activity. But when the bear comes out of the den at the beginning of spring, he stretches out a thin and strong body.

The muscle mass and strength of this creature is basically preserved from last year, despite the fact that he practically does not move, does not even drink or eat, does not poop or pee.

Scientists have been trying to understand how this superpower works for years, and a new study suggests that solvents in bears’ blood play a key role. They can even help prevent a person’s muscle atrophy.

This may sound crazy at first, but when researchers in Japan took the blood serum of seven hibernating bears and added it directly to tissue cultures made up of human skeletal muscle cells, they noticed an increase in the protein content of the cells within 24 hours.

At the same time, the production of a regulatory protein, which plays an important role in shedding unused muscles, has decreased.

However, these changes in cells were observed only when blood from hibernation was added. When blood was taken from active black bears during the summer, the serum did not stop the natural process of protein degradation in human skeletal muscle cells.

“We have shown that a ‘some factor’ present in the blood serum of hibernating bears can regulate protein metabolism in cultured human skeletal muscle cells and help maintain muscle mass,” concludes physiologist Mitsunori Miyazaki of the University of Hiroshima.

“However, this ‘factor’ has not yet been identified.”

Similar studies have been done with black bear serum before, but none of them have been able to accurately determine the “factor” that determines super strength. In 2018, serum from hibernating bears caused a decrease in protein turnover in human skeletal muscle tissue.

A similar effect has also been demonstrated in rat skeletal muscle tissue.

That’s all we know for now, but Miyazaki is determined to keep looking for answers.

“By identifying this ‘factor’ in the blood serum of hibernating bears and elucidating the unexplored mechanism underlying the ‘muscles that don’t weaken even without use’ in hibernating animals, effective rehabilitation strategies in humans can be developed and chaining prevented.” to bed in the future,” he says.

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