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J Physiol. 2009 May 1;587(Pt 9):1863-70. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2008.167692. Epub 2009 Mar 16.

A role for nuclear receptors in mammalian hibernation.

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Department of Comparative Biosciences, University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Hibernation is one of the most dramatic examples of phenotypic plasticity in mammals. During periods of food shortage and/or reduced ambient temperatures hibernating mammals become heterothermic, allowing their body temperature to decrease while entering an energy-conserving torpid state. In order to survive the multi-month hibernation season many species engage in hyperphagy, dramatically increasing adipose stores prior to the onset of hibernation. Nuclear receptors are a superfamily of transcription factors many of which bind lipophilic molecules as ligands. They regulate a variety of processes including energy homeostasis, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism, inflammation and circadian rhythm. Given that lipids are integral in the hibernation phenotype they may play important regulatory roles through their interactions with nuclear receptors. Here we review current knowledge and suggest possible roles in mammalian hibernation for peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors (PPARs), farnesoid X receptors (FXRs), liver X receptors (LXRs), retinoid-related orphan receptors (RORs) and Rev-ERBs.

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