Wound healing during hibernation by black bears (Ursus americanus) in the wild: Elicitation of reduced scar formation

Department of Surgery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.
Integrative Zoology (Impact Factor: 1.9). 03/2012; 7(1):48-60. DOI: 10.1111/j.1749-4877.2011.00280.x
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Even mildly hypothermic body or limb temperatures can retard healing processes in mammals. Despite this, we observed that hibernating American black bears (Ursus americanus Pallas, 1780) elicit profound abilities in mounting inflammatory responses to infection and/or foreign bodies. In addition, they resolve injuries during hibernation while maintaining mildly hypothermic states (30-35 °C) and without eating, drinking, urinating or defecating. We describe experimental studies on free-ranging bears that document their abilities to completely resolve cutaneous cuts and punctures incurred during or prior to hibernation. We induced small, full-thickness cutaneous wounds (biopsies or incisions) during early denning, and re-biopsied sites 2-3 months later (near the end of denning). Routine histological methods were used to characterize these skin samples. All biopsied sites with respect to secondary intention (open circular biopsies) and primary intention (sutured sites) healed, with evidence of initial eschar (scab) formation, completeness of healed epidermis and dermal layers, dyskeratosis (inclusion cysts), and abilities to produce hair follicles. These healing abilities of hibernating black bears are a clear survival advantage to animals injured before or during denning. Bears are known to have elevated levels of hibernation induction trigger (delta-opioid receptor agonist) and ursodeoxycholic acid (major bile acid within plasma, mostly conjugated with taurine) during hibernation, which may relate to these wound-healing abilities. Further research as to the underlying mechanisms of wound healing during hibernation could have applications in human medicine. Unique approaches may be found to improve healing for malnourished, hypothermic, diabetic and elderly patients or to reduce scarring associated with burns and traumatic injuries.

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Available from: David L. Garshelis, Apr 02, 2014
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    • "The differential regulation of immunity-related proteins during hibernation may be one such adaptation that allows bears to remain in their hypometabolic and mildly hypothermic state, while aiding in the maintenance of immune competence and resistance against infection and disease. Moreover, a recent report demonstrated that the healing of cutaneous wounds is maintained during hibernation [7], suggesting that the mechanisms underlying wound healing and immune function are active during hibernation in bears. This is a unique adaptation because hypothermia and metabolic depression suppresses wound healing in other animals [12], [13]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Hibernation is an adaptation to conserve energy in the face of extreme environmental conditions and low food availability that has risen in several animal phyla. This phenomenon is characterized by reduced metabolic rate (∼25% of the active basal metabolic rate in hibernating bears) and energy demand, while other physiological adjustments are far from clear. The profiling of the serum proteome of the American black bear (Ursus americanus) may reveal specific proteins that are differentially modulated by hibernation, and provide insight into the remarkable physiological adaptations that characterize ursid hibernation. In this study, we used differential gel electrophoresis (DIGE) analysis, liquid chromatography coupled to tandem mass spectrometry, and subsequent MASCOT analysis of the mass spectra to identify candidate proteins that are differentially expressed during hibernation in captive black bears. Seventy serum proteins were identified as changing by ±1.5 fold or more, out of which 34 proteins increased expression during hibernation. The majority of identified proteins are involved in immune system processes. These included α2-macroglobulin, complement components C1s and C4, immunoglobulin μ and J chains, clusterin, haptoglobin, C4b binding protein, kininogen 1, α2-HS-glycoprotein, and apoplipoproteins A-I and A-IV. Differential expression of a subset of these proteins identified by proteomic analysis was also confirmed by immunodetection. We propose that the observed serum protein changes contribute to the maintenance of the hibernation phenotype and health, including increased capacities for bone maintenance and wound healing during hibernation in bears.
    PLoS ONE 06/2013; 8(6):e66119. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0066119 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "Whereas the effects of temperature on inflammatory dynamics have been more extensively explored, additional studies have demonstrated significant effects of temperature changes on wound healing (45, 46). It seems relevant – particularly in relation to the above-explained cytokine dynamics involved in fibrosis – that application of hypothermia has been shown to exert inhibitory effects on wound healing in rats, and that these changes are associated with a delayed expression of TGF-β1 by macrophages (47). "
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    ABSTRACT: Muscular dystrophies such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) are usually approached as dysfunctions of the affected skeletal myofibres and their force transmission. Comparatively little attention has been given to the increase in connective tissue (fibrosis) which accompanies these muscular changes. Interestingly, an increase in endomysial tissue is apparent long before any muscular degeneration can be observed. Fibrosis is the result of a reactive or reparative process involving mechanical, humoral and cellular factors. Originating from vulnerable myofibres, muscle cell necrosis and inflammatory processes are present in DMD. Muscular recovery is limited due to the limited number and capacity of satellite cells. Hence, a proactive and multimodal approach is necessary in order to activate protective mechanisms and to hinder catabolic and tissue degrading pathways. Several avenues are discussed in terms of potential antifibrotic therapy approaches. These include pharmaceutical, nutritional, exercise-based and other mechanostimulatory modalities (such as massage or yoga-like stretching) with the intention of exerting an anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic effect on the affected muscular tissues. A preventive intervention at an early age is crucial, based on the early and seemingly non-reversible nature of the fibrotic tissue changes. Since consistent assessment is essential, different measurement technologies are discussed.
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    • "Bile acids are detergents, surfactants, interfere with protein-mediated hepatic long chain free fatty acid uptake and are potentially hepatotoxic [1,2,21,22]. UDCA is elevated during bear hibernation [23]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is a steroid bile acid approved for primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). UDCA is reported to have "hepato-protective properties". Yet, UDCA has "unanticipated" toxicity, pronounced by more than double number of deaths, and eligibility for liver transplantation compared to the control group in 28 mg/kg/day in primary sclerosing cholangitis, necessitating trial halt in North America. UDCA is associated with increase in hepatocellular carcinoma in PBC especially when it fails to achieve biochemical response (10 and 15 years incidence of 9% and 20% respectively). "Unanticipated" UDCA toxicity includes hepatitis, pruritus, cholangitis, ascites, vanishing bile duct syndrome, liver cell failure, death, severe watery diarrhea, pneumonia, dysuria, immune-suppression, mutagenic effects and withdrawal syndrome upon sudden halt. UDCA inhibits DNA repair, co-enzyme A, cyclic AMP, p53, phagocytosis, and inhibits induction of nitric oxide synthatase. It is genotoxic, exerts aneugenic activity, and arrests apoptosis even after cellular phosphatidylserine externalization. UDCA toxicity is related to its interference with drug detoxification, being hydrophilic and anti-apoptotic, has a long half-life, has transcriptional mutational abilities, down-regulates cellular functions, has a very narrow difference between the recommended (13 mg/kg/day) and toxic dose (28 mg/kg/day), and it typically transforms into lithocholic acid that induces DNA strand breakage, it is uniquely co-mutagenic, and promotes cell transformation. UDCA beyond PBC is unjustified.
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