Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2016 Mar 24;11(3):e0152135. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0152135. eCollection 2016.

Antioxidant Defenses in the Brains of Bats during Hibernation.

Author information

Laboratory of Molecular Ecology and Evolution, Shanghai Engineering Research Center of Molecular Therapeutics and New Drug Development, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.
Proteomic Research Center, National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan.
State Key Laboratory of Estuarine and Coastal Research, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.
College of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, Shenyang Agricultural University, Shenyang, China.
Laboratory of Molecular Ecology and Evolution, School of Life Sciences, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China.


Hibernation is a strategy used by some mammals to survive a cold winter. Small hibernating mammals, such as squirrels and hamsters, use species- and tissue-specific antioxidant defenses to cope with oxidative insults during hibernation. Little is known about antioxidant responses and their regulatory mechanisms in hibernating bats. We found that the total level of reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS) in the brain of each of the two distantly related hibernating bats M. ricketti and R. ferrumequinum at arousal was lower than that at torpid or active state. We also found that the levels of malondialdehyde (product of lipid peroxidation) of the two hibernating species of bats were significantly lower than those of non-hibernating bats R. leschenaultia and C. sphinx. This observation suggests that bats maintain a basal level of ROS/RNS that does no harm to the brain during hibernation. Results of Western blotting showed that hibernating bats expressed higher amounts of antioxidant proteins than non-hibernating bats and that M. ricketti bats upregulated the expression of some enzymes to overcome oxidative stresses, such as superoxide dismutase, glutathione reductase, and catalase. In contrast, R. ferrumequinum bats maintained a relatively high level of superoxide dismutase 2, glutathione reductase, and thioredoxin-2 throughout the three different states of hibernation cycles. The levels of glutathione (GSH) were higher in M. ricketti bats than in R. ferrumequinum bats and were significantly elevated in R. ferrumequinum bats after torpor. These data suggest that M. ricketti bats use mainly antioxidant enzymes and R. ferrumequinum bats rely on both enzymes and low molecular weight antioxidants (e.g., glutathione) to avoid oxidative stresses during arousal. Furthermore, Nrf2 and FOXOs play major roles in the regulation of antioxidant defenses in the brains of bats during hibernation. Our study revealed strategies used by bats against oxidative insults during hibernation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center