Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hibernating bears and Nephrology

An interesting concept in science is biomimicry. It is the science that takes inspiration from unique designs and processes in nature to help humans.

Learning from the Ursidae( hibernating bears) about how they remain metabolically quiet and yet have no major complications can help science. If we had 6 months of bed rest, we would have heart failure, blood clots, muscle wasting, hypercalcemia and bed sores.  Interestingly, these bears have no heart failure, no blood clots, only have 10-15% reduction in muscle mass and only have fat breakdown. They remain without bed sores and normocalcemic.  Why do these bears not get azotemia in these settings? They have marked reduction in GFR when they hibernate, yet no azotemia? Why?

A recent article in Kidney international looks at this very concept and proposes some hypothesis to test.

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