Hibernating Little Pocket Mice Show Few Seasonal Changes in Bone Properties

Periods of disuse or physical inactivity increases bone porosity and decreases bone mineral density, resulting in a loss of bone mechanical competence in many animals. Although large hibernators like bears and marmots prevent bone loss during hibernation, despite long periods of physical inactivity, some small hibernators do lose bone during hibernation.

Six months of disuse during hibernation does not increase intracortical porosity or decrease cortical bone geometry, strength, or mineralization in black bear (Ursus americanus) femurs

Disuse typically uncouples bone formation from resorption, leading to bone loss which compromises bone mechanical properties and increases the risk of bone fracture. Previous studies suggest that bears can prevent bone loss during long periods of disuse (hibernation), but small sample sizes have limited the conclusions that can be drawn regarding the effects of hibernation on bone structure and strength in bears.