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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2005 Nov;289(5):R1297-306. Epub 2005 Jun 23.

Absence of cellular stress in brain after hypoxia induced by arousal from hibernation in Arctic ground squirrels.

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Institute of Arctic Biology, Alaska Basic Neuroscience Program, Box 757000, 902 N. Koyukuk Dr., Irving I Rm. 311, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775-7000, USA.


Although hypoxia tolerance in heterothermic mammals is well established, it is unclear whether the adaptive significance stems from hypoxia or other cellular challenge associated with euthermy, hibernation, or arousal. In the present study, blood gases, hemoglobin O2 saturation (S(O2), and indexes of cellular and physiological stress were measured during hibernation and euthermy and after arousal thermogenesis. Results show that arterial O2 tension (Pa(O2)) and S(O2) are severely diminished during arousal and that hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)-1alpha accumulates in brain. Despite evidence of hypoxia, neither cellular nor oxidative stress, as indicated by inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) levels and oxidative modification of biomolecules, was observed during late arousal from hibernation. Compared with rats, hibernating Arctic ground squirrels (Spermophilus parryii) are well oxygenated with no evidence of cellular stress, inflammatory response, neuronal pathology, or oxidative modification following the period of high metabolic demand necessary for arousal. In contrast, euthermic Arctic ground squirrels experience mild, chronic hypoxia with low S(O2) and accumulation of HIF-1alpha and iNOS and demonstrate the greatest degree of cellular stress in brain. These results suggest that Arctic ground squirrels experience and tolerate endogenous hypoxia during euthermy and arousal.

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