A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers studied hibernating brown bears to discover why they do not develop deep vein thrombosis during prolonged periods of inactivity.

brown bear

(Photo by Mark Basarab)

Researchers found that a specific protein (HSP47) is downregulated during hibernation. This protein is active in the blood clotting cascade and when downregulated lowers blood clotting activity. Researchers found that HSP47 is also downregulated in humans who have suffered a spinal cord injury after the acute phase of the injury has passed. Researchers confirmed the role of HSP47 with genetically engineered mice bred to have no HSP47 protein. This study represents an important breakthrough in research focused on prevention of deep vein thrombosis, which causes 60,000 to 100,000 deaths each year. 

The study is available at JAMA Published online April 19, 2023. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.7143

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