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Physiol Biochem Zool. 2006 May-Jun;79(3):474-83. Epub 2006 Apr 19.

Mitochondrial metabolism in hibernation: metabolic suppression, temperature effects, and substrate preferences.

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Department of Biology, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.


We compared liver and skeletal muscle mitochondrial function among activity states to characterize regulated reversible metabolic suppression in the mammalian hibernator Spermophilus tridecemlineatus. At 37 degrees C, succinate oxidation was 70% lower in the liver mitochondria from torpid animals than in those from summer-active animals or in animals arousing from torpor. Respiration was very sensitive to temperature (Q(10) 5.8-9.8), and when measured at 25 degrees or 5 degrees C there was no difference among the three states. Liver mitochondria from summer-active animals oxidized pyruvate and beta -hydroxybutyrate at higher rates than those from torpid animals, and flux through complex 4 of the electron transport chain was about three- and fivefold higher than flux through complexes 2-4 and complexes 1-4, respectively. In the hibernating and arousing animals there was no difference in flux through complexes 2-4 and complex 4, suggesting a downregulation of cytochrome c oxidase in liver mitochondria during the hibernation season. Muscle mitochondrial respiration did not differ between the torpid and summer-active states in any of the parameters measured. The data support a regulated, reversible decrease of liver (but not muscle) mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation in hibernating ground squirrels.

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