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Sci Rep. 2018 Apr 3;8(1):5525. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-23891-5.

Proteolysis inhibition by hibernating bear serum leads to increased protein content in human muscle cells.

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CarMeN Laboratory, INSERM, INRA, University of Lyon, Pierre-Benite, France.
Université de Strasbourg, CNRS, IPHC UMR 7178, F-67000, Strasbourg, France.
Laboratoire de Spectrométrie de Masse Bio-Organique, 25 rue Becquerel, F-67087, Strasbourg, France.
Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales, CNES, 75039, Paris, France.
Département Ecologie, Physiologie et Ethologie, 23 rue Becquerel, F-67087, Strasbourg, France.
Department of digestive and bariatric surgery, Obesity Integrated Center, University Hospital of Edouard Herriot, Hospices Civils de Lyon, Lyon 1 University, Lyon, France.
Faculty of Environmental Sciences and Natural Resource Management, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, 1432, Ås, Norway.
Norwegian Institute for Nature Research, 7485, Trondheim, Norway.
Department of Natural Sciences and Environmental Health, University College of Southeast Norway, N3800 Bø in Telemark, Bø, Norway.
Institute of Wildlife Biology and Game Management, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna, Gregor Mendel Str. 33, A-1180, Vienna, Austria.
Department of Forestry and Wildlife Management, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, NO-2480, Koppang, Norway.
Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SE-901 83, Umeå, Sweden.
Institute of Biochemistry and Department of Biology, Carleton University, 1125 Colonel By Drive, Ottawa, ON K1S 5B6, Canada.
CarMeN Laboratory, INSERM, INRA, University of Lyon, Pierre-Benite, France.


Muscle atrophy is one of the main characteristics of human ageing and physical inactivity, with resulting adverse health outcomes. To date, there are still no efficient therapeutic strategies for its prevention and/or treatment. However, during hibernation, bears exhibit a unique ability for preserving muscle in conditions where muscle atrophy would be expected in humans. Therefore, our objective was to determine whether there are components of bear serum which can control protein balance in human muscles. In this study, we exposed cultured human differentiated muscle cells to bear serum collected during winter and summer periods, and measured the impact on cell protein content and turnover. In addition, we explored the signalling pathways that control rates of protein synthesis and degradation. We show that the protein turnover of human myotubes is reduced when incubated with winter bear serum, with a dramatic inhibition of proteolysis involving both proteasomal and lysosomal systems, and resulting in an increase in muscle cell protein content. By modulating intracellular signalling pathways and inducing a protein sparing phenotype in human muscle cells, winter bear serum therefore holds potential for developing new tools to fight human muscle atrophy and related metabolic disorders.

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