Alison H. Doherty, Danielle M. Roteliuk, Sara E. Gookin, Ashley K. McGrew, Carolyn J. Broccardo, Keith W. Condon, Jessica E. Prenni, Samantha J. Wojda, Gregory L. Florant, and Seth W. Donahue
Periods of physical inactivity increase bone resorption and cause bone loss and increased fracture risk. However, hibernating bears, marmots, and woodchucks maintain bone structure and strength, despite being physically inactive for prolonged periods annually. We tested the hypothesis that bone turnover rates would decrease and bone structural and mechanical properties would be preserved in hibernating marmots (Marmota flaviventris). Femurs and tibias were collected from marmots during hibernation and in the summer following hibernation. Bone remodeling was significantly altered in cortical and trabecular bone during hibernation with suppressed formation and no change in resorption, unlike the increased bone resorption that occurs during disuse in humans and other animals. Trabecular bone architecture and cortical bone geometrical and mechanical properties were not different between hibernating and active marmots, but bone marrow adiposity was significantly greater in hibernators. Of the 506 proteins identified in marmot bone, 40 were significantly different in abundance between active and hibernating marmots. Monoaglycerol lipase, which plays an important role in fatty acid metabolism and the endocannabinoid system, was 98-fold higher in hibernating marmots compared with summer marmots and may play a role in regulating the changes in bone and fat metabolism that occur during hibernation.